From e-learning to 'co-learning': the role of virtual communities
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AbstractThe paper presents the analysis of changes introduced in learning environments through a different approach respect to traditional e-learning. In our experience, the introduction of the metaphor of “virtual community” changed not only the relationship between people involved in educational activities (teachers, students, tutors, administrative staff etc.), but also the technical approach to services supplied by the e-learning platform. Thanks to the “community” approach, all the services of a traditional e-learning system (CBT, LMS, LCMS, etc.) must be re-designed, thus allowing to extend the potentialities of services delivered to the audience. The introduction of the “community” concept allow the e-learning platform a greater flexibility: concepts like “role”, “rights”, “duties”; “hierarchy”, “participant”, typical of a community system, allow to use e-learning services in different contexts that help a greater integration between educational services and the information system of the institution. We therefore think that e-learning should evolve (at least) towards “co-learning”, meaning not only “collaborative-learning”, but (more realistically) “community-learning”, i.e., using virtual communities to learn.