Saturday, April 23, 2011

Virtual Campus Framework

Regional meetings have recently been held to progress the Virtual Campus Project discussed in previous posts on this blog: Imagining the Polyverse, Building a Sustainable Polyverse.

While the Polytechnic has an 'official' LMS and public website there are a plethora of other online services, resources and environments independently developed by innovative individuals and teams to meet the needs of learners. So much so that it's valid to ask if we already have a 'virtual campus' in the sense of a rich and diverse online capacity that provides required functionality for remote and local students to engage in learning and training.

What is clearly absent however is any sense from a student perspective of a coherent and connected Polytechnic online service/space. Most online students are isolated from each other and from other classes, campuses and learning communities. There is little sense of a 'virtual campus' and navigation between online spaces is almost non-existent.

Rather than launch into planning and building a 'virtual campus' after hearing (for the first time for many present) about the numerous online services beyond the official LMS all meetings recommended:
  1. Defining the notion of a 'virtual campus' for discussion
  2. Listing some guiding principles that might form a conceptual framework within which further online innovation might take place
  3. Develop a model or models to provide systemic views of virtual campus infrastructure, navigation, standards, data flow...
Several people expressed the desire to ensure that any processes put in place to build a coherent and connected virtual campus continued to support innovation within and outside the project, as well as being agile enough to cope with changing technologies, diverse pedagogies and genuine student choices in learning.

At some meetings there was discussion about the use of designs/technologies to connect existing online spaces such as
  • tagging and meta-tagging
  • visual ecologies such as 360 panorama
  • immersive 3D environments
  • gamification and levels
How does one navigate a complex and rapidly growing virtual campus where anything is possible?

What should we call the virtual campus? The staff intranet is called Phoenix. Any suggestions for the name of an inspiring online meta-campus that blends the physical, the virtual and the possible?

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