Global Virtual Organizations for Online Educator Empowerment
The authors of this text have never met. We live in different continents and different time zones.We do however share the same space and the same organization for at least some of our professional development.We are all members of the World Association for Online Education (WAOE), which is a virtual and voluntary organization for those interested in online education. Entirely virtual organizations represent a significant new form of social organization. The world community of scholars with shared academic standards and ethics is well poised to utilize the online medium for mutual empowerment and relevant social action in the so-called real world that originates, organizes and builds strength in cyberspace. So as a virtual organization and professional development vehicle for educators, WAOE itself can also be understood as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
In this text, we conceptualize the WAOE as a VLE not in the sense of another WebCT or Blackboard (or similar software system), but rather as a perceptual home for learning in virtual spaces. The organization is an online venue for global all-comers who share similar values and interests in professional development and online education. As such the software used is not the central issue. By providing activities, events and resources within the online community we become a VLE in the manner of a floating venue for globally accessible interaction, offering learning opportunities for all. We thereby extend and re-conceptualize the more traditional understanding of VLE as based on a set of tools into a conceptual and cognitive apparatus. This re-visioning fits more tightly with the ideas of empowerment that we explore in more detail below.
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