Organizational Code of Cyber Transparency in E-Learning Environments: A Framework for Distance Education Institutions

Organizational Code of Cyber Transparency in E-Learning Environments: A Framework for Distance Education Institutions

Tulay Goru Dogan (Assistant Professor, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8844-5.ch018
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The purpose of this chapter is to develop a framework for distance education institutions focusing on organizational code of cyber transparency in e-learning environments. The background of the study is based on the transparency concept as cyber transparency concept is derived from concepts of the cyber and transparency. In this sense, the cyber transparency framework points out two dimensions for distance education institutions as (1) internal transparency and (2) external transparency. The chapter explains these two dimensions in detail in terms of information share with people and amount of information shared. As a consequence, the cyber transparency framework can highlight the promotion of internal and external transparency in e-learning environments. On the other hand, this framework can be developed, customized and updated by the institutions, experts or researchers for different situations.
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The purpose of this chapter is to offer a theoretical framework regarding cyber transparency issues in e-learning environments for distance education institutions. In this sense, primarily the meaning of the concept of transparency is discussed.

The word transparency is originated to the late 16th century (meaning a transparent object): from Medieval Latin transparentia, from transparent- ‘shining through’ and means the condition of being transparent (Oxford Dictionaries, 2014b). As a principle “Transparency” could be associated with administrative decisions, business transactions or public benefactor work including some basic facts and figures but also the mechanisms and processes. In this sense, as stated by the Transparency International (2014), people like civil servants, managers and trustees should act visibly, predictably and understandably. Bennis (2008, p. 93) defines transparency as being capable of seen through, without guile or concealment; open; frank; candid. Accordingly, Oliver (2004, p.3) states that in a physical sense, transparency means that you can see through some medium to an object on the other side. Transparency is a compound word created from two distinct concepts: trans meaning movement and parent meaning visible. To put it another way Oliver (2004) defines transparency, as letting the truth be available for others to see if they so choose or perhaps think to look, or have the time, means, and skills to look. In today’s our world, transparency means active disclosure (Oliver, 2004).

In addition to the definitions mentioned above, in the last decade the concept of transparency evolved to new implications. Apart from its lexical meaning, the word transparency has become a frequently encountered concept in the fields of governance, business or education. The meaning of transparency varies slightly across these fields. However, in encountered in any field, transparency is linked with the concepts accountability, quality, openness and trust.

Bennis (2008) states that, more of information is stored in the cyber space and powerful search engines let anyone to dig the digitized information mine in who has access to Internet. Therefore, in this era of inevitable information flow and communication transparency is a necessity. Organizations become more honest when they enable the information flow and transparency at the same time letting more members to know about organizational activities. In this context, Bennis (2008, p.94) claims that the digital development has made transparency inevitable worldwide. Regarding this issue, today we witness many governmental organizations using technologies such as social media, social computing, and platforms to collaborate to support their mission (Mergel, 2013). Besides this, information flow between organizations, its stakeholders and the public becomes liberalized and serves the organizational missions more effectively Bennis, Goleman, and Biederman 2008). Mergel (2013) classifies the use of innovative technologies in organization under three functions or purposes:

  • 1.

    To increase transparency,

  • 2.

    To support inter- and intraorganizational collaboration, and

  • 3.

    To enable innovative forms of public participation and engagement.

Bennis (2008) claims that people don’t believe what the leaders say if there is no transparency in today’s world where the information travels globally. Besides being a luxury, transparency is a fundamental of economic, political or religious systems in a democratic government (Oliver, 2004, p. 10). Institutional accountability and transparency efforts may succeed if the communication is effective with the public (Pathways to College Network Brief, 2012, p.3). Concordantly, transparency and accountability is an evidence of organization’s moral status. In this sense, Bennis, Goleman, and Biederman (2008, p. 42-43) express that healthy institutions, which includes democracy, are more open than unhealthy ones. Creating open and transparent institutional environments promote democracy.

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