Regarding the traditional way, virtual learning systems have been used by institutions and trainers in order to provide courses and subjects. In this model it is usual to follow an structure divided in different modules (also known as units or sections). In fact, this system is the most used especially when teaching contents with the aim of letting learners acquire knowledge. This was originally called Virtual Learning Environments (or VLE) offered through Learning Management Systems (or LMS), although nowadays these systems are such a powerful tool that overtake the usefulness of a traditional course.
We can find an example of the system explained above in a centre for business training in which the normative of risk prevention. In each of the modules a part of the syllabus is taught. For instance:
Course about risk prevention, units:
- Legislative context
- Risk Prevention in the Workplace
- Health Surveillance
- Road Safety
This is just an example, as it could be the case of teaching history and roman art:
Roman Art History, modules:
- Monarchy (753 B.C.)
- Republic (509 B.C.)
- Reign (27 B.C.)
- Division (476 A.C)
Therefore, in such an structured model it is usual the fact of delivering materials by the trainer and so the students do activities related to the contents of the course. These activities are usually made in order to facilitate the comprehension of documents, videos and other resources to end with a system of evaluation, realization of individual and group tasks and finally to hand over those works or other evaluation tasks for each module.
Still when the next module requires the learning of the previous one, they are clearly independent modules with regard to the activities. A proof of this is that the activities and results of one module cannot be used for the next one. Any student can leave a module momentaneously to take up the course in the next module.
The great advantage here is that the modularity provides a comfortable work for the trainer as well as for the student. The length of a course is clearly defined, there is a beginning and an end. We will see in the rest of models that there is not any necessity of defining the temporary parametres; the learning process is constant and indefinite.
In edueca we aim to facilitate this model of training allowing the trainer organize the contents and tasks as didactic units which can contain sections that might facilitate even more the separation of contents. The activities that we provide in edueca are used by the trainer depending on its own objectives. For instance, debate, comprehension, or evaluation activities among many others. In this particular model, the trainer is the one who organizes and manages all the activity regarding teaching-learning. The main pedagogy that is applied is, therefore, constructivist, even though in edueca we do not stop offering other possibilities.
Communities of interest
In this system the role of the trainer does not exist. Instead of a person who teaches and manages the educational activity, there are only members who belong to this community and among them there is a promoter person of this community, with functions of the moderator or supervisor. A network of particular interest is simply a network for the dissemination of information, and not of knowledge since its one and only purpose is to distribute data (documents, links, videos…) to all its members. Moreover, the activities that the members realize are just a few such as some kind of feedback or checking, but without demanding cognitive effort.
It is not an educational activity, that is why it is interesting and useful depending on the necessities of our own group or institution. Some examples would be:
- Use of a rich email list in which what is distributed is organized and available for all its members.
- Distribution of news, information, data, such as in a newsletter but where the data is classified and where it is also allowed that learners add value to what has already been distributed (add comments, new data, distribute…).
- Information repository, available for the members to consult the organization providing different levels of organization and access.
In this case, in edueca you can create communities of interest. Moreover, we supply ways of communication and organization of contents to make easier and possible the distribution and the recuperation of the desired information.
Learning in projects
The model of contents in modules that we have described above (courses style) is converted into a model of activities in different phases. However, this does not mean that in the learning with projects system there should not be materials such as documents, videos or links that the student can use to check or consult. In fact, the available resources and activities are the same as in a course, but the main objective is the realization of a series of activities that goes beyond the phases, as it grows and increases in a more complex way.
Unlike the linear learning process proposed previously, in this model the learner should be involved from the beginning and, in the case of leaving any of the phases, taking up the course would become something arduous. As a main advantage, this particular method provides an experience of construction which will become valuable and useful for the student. This experience will be acquired by means of a perspective of system and specific competences in each of the phases that is related to the whole project. For instance, creativity, problem-solving, responsibility, cooperation, etc. Therefore, the pedagogy par excellence of this system is the constructivist one.
Some examples of this system would be, for example, in design courses where the student self-develops through systems:
- Construction, Integration
In Edueca we make possible this model providing specific tools and activities for the creation of the knowledge and the collaboration between groups, even of the creation of competition skills if the trainer or manager feels it is convenient to do so.
Virtual Learning Communities
A virtual community of learning (also known as a VLC), is actually a model of group formation or an organizational growth that is becoming more common day after day among the organizations and their enterprises and teams. Those virtual communities arose thanks to the facilities provided by the internet and the information and communication technologies where it is possible to become part of a VLC in a flexible and comfortable way.
In a VLC lesson there is no trainer but it deals, instead, with a self-coordinated group which has one common target goal. Therefore, the group can be compounded by different people (it would be interdisciplinary) or by people from a similar area (it would be more homogeneous) in this way, setting an objective; learning from each other, or studying a specific area in depth. Moreover, depending on the kind of organization, the transference of knowledge can be vertical (at various institution’s hierarchy-levels) or horizontal (at the same level but belonging to different departments).
In Edueca we favour these communities offering them an environment managed by interaction and knowledge creation activities that are created to put them in practice in a creative and dynamic way. Besides, there are no modules or phases but joint participation spaces. Some examples for that model could be the following:
- A group of workers in a company who want to share good experiences or practices and discover the tacit knowledge.
- A group of workers of an organization set up by seniors and juniors. Seniors share their experience and juniors their freshness and new perspectives.
- A group of people who is reading a particular book and want to know more about its context, history, theories, etc.
- A group of people, with a common hobby, who would love to share what they discover everybody on its own.
Virtual Innovation Community
This specific community is made up by people who is highly involved and who do not pretend to share knowledge as in the case of the VLC but to create new one, In Edueca we make possible of growth offering an environment that favours creativity and new organizational models.
Some examples of activities for this model could be the following:
- Development of new product or business models.
- Search of problem solutions, projects development, planification.
- Search of new organizational models.
The phases that Edueca propose in an interactive way for this model are:
- Joint creaction.
- Evaluation. Members of this community should be people deeply involved since they will have to participate in stimulating activities with high emotional burden in order to transform reality.
Virtual Learning Network
In a Virtual Learning Network (or VLN), the learning process is favoured thanks to the interaction and communication with the rest of participants. In this specific model there is no learning group, it is the student himself who decides what is interesting and what he or she wants to learn instead. It could be similar to a virtual community where each user or participant decides the person he/she wants to follow.
The distinctive feature of Edueca is that it is a community that enables the creation of networks and links among people, adding information that allows for being classified, enriched and evaluated. As a result, it becomes knowledge that could be distributed in the net again.
Personal Learning Environment
Personal Learning Environments (or PLE) emerged from the student’s individual initiative and responsibility. In fact, we should not talk about ‘’student’’ since there is neither a teaching activity nor trainer although there is a learning and growth process.
In physical environments the sources of information and knowledge are generally local (school, library, family) and in case we wanted to share them we would have to use limited media of distribution such as a local newspaper or neighbourhood meetings. Hence, the feedback received is really limited. In the society of information and knowledge, the availability of resources and sources is huge, rich and varied. The management of this information is a key issue for its following use,and then it can be published and shared. Then, the feedback we can produce is global and within a PLE we should take advantage of it in order to grow and enrich oneself.
In Edueca we offer knowledge management tools, as virtual libraries, making possible a useful and accessible organization of the resources we have, with the chance of increasing it by means of personal or third parties sources.
The distribution of knowledge in PLE is attached to the information management model, and in Edueca we make it possible by giving the opportunity of distributing in a simple way once a person has discovered something interesting as well as created notes, videos, files or some new content.
All the previous models together
The best educational model is the one that adapts to the student’s needs as well as to the needs of the trainer and the content. So, that model might be a mixed of all the previous models explained above. In Edueca we do not expect to offer a single model exclusively but an online configurable environment.