, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 92-112

The Internet as a virtual learning community

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THE MODEL of an Internet-based virtual learning community, with students interacting dynamically with the content, the technology, and, most importantly, each other, offers a powerful and convivial approach to providing education at a distance. The classes described here, based on over a year of teaching classes entirely via the Internet, work very effectively as collaborative communities.

This paper describes one model for implementing university classes via the Internet using listservs, electronic mail, and the World Wide Web (WWW). It reports on student feedback concerning this approach to learning. A comparison is made between Internet-based classes and traditional classes taught face-to-face. In addition, the complementary possibilities of asynchronous virtual learning experiences—where students participate in class activities flexibly, at any time of their own choosing—and synchronous on-line activities—where all class members are on-line at the same time in a class-wide interactive forum of discussion, questions and answers, brainstorming, and other activities—are examined.

McLellan Wyatt Digital
Hilary McLellan, Ph.D., is a partner with the consulting firm McLellan Wyatt Digital and a member of the National Faculty of the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University.