Knowledge Management for Hybrid Learning

Knowledge Management for Hybrid Learning

Stefanie Sieber (University of Bamberg, Germany) and Andreas Henrich (University of Bamberg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-380-7.ch026
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The merging of knowledge management and hybrid learning has gained more and more attraction and has been put in the focus of interests lately, for the simple reason that both areas can benefit from each other. As a result, this chapter deals with knowledge management for hybrid learning. This chapter begins with a short introduction, followed by a brief clarification showing our understanding of hybrid learning. Afterwards, knowledge and associated attributes are defined precisely – definitions are derived and taxonomies for knowledge are described. This section closes with a first reflection on knowledge in the context of hybrid learning. Subsequently, the authors take a closer look at knowledge management by introducing different schools of thought and models for knowledge management. Opportunities to delve deeper into the subject individually are offered passim. The main part of the chapter provides a comprehensive view of knowledge management for hybrid learning. The described features range from general conclusions to theoretical aspects, exemplary projects, and finally practical aspects – previous deliberations are brought together, current insights concerning the research perspective are described and tools as well as techniques which foster knowledge management for hybrid learning are presented. Finally, a critical reflection as well as an outlook and some thoughts concerning future issues conclude this chapter.
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Knowledge management as well as learning in general or e-learning and hybrid learning in particular are two areas that have developed independently in the past. Lately these fields are starting to converge, and theories, methods, and findings are being combined. These joint considerations benefit both areas with new insights and enhancements but also increase the complexity and number of obstacles for those interested in these topics and those in charge of setting up a proper solution for a specific setting. Individually, the area of hybrid learning already brings with it a vast number of settings. The virtual parts of learning can range from a minimum support up to a broadly considered, pedagogically sophisticated offer. Of course traditional learning can be scaled the same way.

Figure 1 shows the shift of learning paradigms by summing up the resulting number of systems assigned to each paradigm, and it gives an impression of the consequential increasing importance of blended and hybrid systems, respectively.

Figure 1.

Shift in learning paradigms reflected by number of existing systems (Graham, 2005, p. 6)


Knowledge management, on the other hand, can be strictly formalized and strategically grounded in a learning institution, or can be more informal, dynamic and self-paced. If an attempt is made to combine these two already complex and partially opposing areas, it is just a simple matter of mathematics to realize that complexity increases and the number of possibilities is overwhelming.

The main objective of this chapter is therefore not to describe one way of setting up knowledge management for hybrid learning, but instead to build a continuum of possibilities and opportunities that knowledge management offers for hybrid learning – and the other way round – considering a variety of important aspects that differ from one setting to another. Depending on the particular instance, one setting can turn out to be extremely helpful while it is hardly of use for a different problem or field of application.


Hybrid Learning

Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human.

Through learning we re-create ourselves.

Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do.

Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it.

Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.

There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning. (Senge, 2006, pp. 13-14)

Since this whole book is dedicated to the area of hybrid learning, definitions have been given in previous chapters. In addition, there are already good definitions and descriptions as for instance in Bonk, Graham, Cross, & Moore (2005). Therefore, the intention behind this part of the chapter lies in clarifying our understanding of hybrid learning rather than giving a broad literature review and discussion on possible definitions, understanding, and views of hybrid learning.

There is a variety of approaches to defining hybrid learning. For our concerns, we adopt the perspective that defines hybrid learning as a mix of two general approaches to learning – the traditional classroom learning on the one hand, and the technology enhanced e-learning on the other hand. “The hybrid instructional model is a blend of conventional face-to-face instruction and Web-based distance learning. In other words, a hybrid instructional model consists of both classroom face-to-face meetings and distance learning” (Koohang & Durante, 2003, p. 106), where distance learning or distance education “is any form of teaching and learning in which teacher and learner are not in the same place at the same time, with information technology their likely connector” (Gilbert, 1995). Briefly stated “Blended learning is the integration of classroom learning with elearning” (Siemens, 2005).

We also adopt the term “blended learning” since – in our opinion – the terms “hybrid learning” and “blended learning” are interchangeable and can be used synonymously. “Blended” therefore also refers to the mix of traditional classroom learning and technology enhanced distance learning, as defined above.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge: Knowledge is information enriched with context and interpretation. Various distinctions for different kinds of knowledge exist and are used according to the associated purpose.

Knowledge Management for Hybrid Learning: Knowledge management for hybrid learning is the integration of two separately developed branches that brings benefits to both branches and offers opportunities for an actually already existing connection – knowledge & learning.

Hybrid Learning: Hybrid Learning is located in the continuum of blended learning and therefore a mix of different forms of information and knowledge transfer.

Knowledge Management: Knowledge Management in general is the process of gathering, maintaining, processing, and providing knowledge. There are specific models for knowledge management – of a formal as well as a more informal character – that integrate knowledge management into complex settings.

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