Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Virtual Knowledge Centre, the new VLE for academics

Yesterday I had a very interesting presentation on the state of affairs regarding the PARTNER project which has been set up by Utrecht University Library. They showed me a very amusing video, but I can't find it on the web. I wrote about their start up session with Etienne Wenger years ago...

I was especially interested because it seems to offer a meaningful alternative to competence based learning for academics. In their approach students all are busy becoming members of the academic community. Society demands knowledge workers that can cope with large amounts of information critically. To achieve this goal students are offered a Virtual Knowledge Centre in which they collaborate on constructing knowledge and building products. Alumni remain members of the community and are requested to remain involved. Experts in the field are welcome to join and contribute to the the Knowledge Centre. In my opinion this can be a frail connection, so it will be important to offer them enough in return for their input into the community. The teachers, experts, alumni and fellow students review the products produced by the students.
The project group realises that critical review is an important skill which is required in the learning process and especially in assessment if you use this approach. The presented pedagogical model is intended to be added parallel to the existing curriculum and the existing assessment. This makes it a safe option, but also could be regarded as a non-assessed extra by the students, which could die a slow death just like the portfolio did.
All in all I find it a very interesting approach to a new type of learning which is specifically suitable for an academic education. The technical solution has been built in Sharepoint, which seems ideal because it offers the very important groupware facilities which are so important for creating a community.

No comments: