Special Issue on


Creating, Supporting, Managing, and Sustaining Virtual Learning Communities


Guest Editor


Xun Ge, Ph.D.


Associate Professor

Instructional Psychology and Technology

Department of Educational Psychology

The University of Oklahoma

U. S. A.




We are living in an information-rich digital age full of wondrous power, capabilities, and possibilities of emerging technologies. Web 2.0 technologies, characterized by participatory information sharing and collaboration and users generating content and creating knowledge in virtual communities, have opened our eyes to a new open world (Bonk, 2009). Examples of web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, virtual worlds, and digital object repositories. These emerging technologies have provided us numerous possibilities for learning and instruction and for creating engaging and optimal learning opportunities and alternative and innovative instructional experiences for K-12 education, higher education, corporate, government, and military training. The world has entered into what Bonk (2009) describes as “We-All-Learn” trends, which encourage open participation and compel educators to reflect on learning and instruction from a new perspective. Learners are no longer passive information recipients, whose role is to memorize or consume information, but rather active participants, whose role is to direct their own learning, construct and create knowledge, and contribute to a virtual community; whereas teachers are guides, coaches, and mentors to facilitate learning.


However, the potentials of the emerging web 2.0 technologies have not been fully recognized and tapped. Often we find online instruction simply duplication of face-to-face lectures, in which technology is simply an appendage to education instead of playing a more central and transforming role. Many instructors have not changed their mindset to accommodate the participatory culture and the new paradigm of learning and instruction; and little has been done beyond posting syllabi, assignments, and grading to a learning management system or a web site that is supposed to be used for collaborative learning. It is argued that new technologies not only make us more productive, but also help us become more reflective and creative.  Most importantly, technologies have afforded us with tools to accomplish goals we would have not been able to without them. As early as in the 80s, Pea (1985) argued that technology should not only be used to amplify our thinking but also to reorganize our mental functioning. Therefore, we are prompted to fully take advantage of web 2.0 affordances to develop innovative learning environments and build virtual learning communities that will motivate and engage learners meaningfully and interactively in their learning experiences and focus on developing the 21st century skills that emphasize innovation, creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving.


Yet, using emerging technologies to build a virtual learning community (VLC) is a multifaceted innovation. It not only involves the use of new technologies, but also new method of learning and new ways of thinking of learning and instruction. It presents multiple levels of challenges to both learners and instructors. Subsequently, there are many issues awaiting to be examined, studied, and addressed, including learners’ perceptions, motivation and identity when participating in a VLC, strategies and methods of designing, building, managing, and evaluating a VLC to develop students critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, and teachers’ beliefs about participatory culture of a virtual learning environment.


This special issue of the KM&EL international journal is dedicated to the building of VLCs using emerging technologies. In this special issue, a VLC is defined as both informal, such as one that supports ongoing professional development, and formal, such as one as found in a formal course setting that lasts a semester. In this call, we invite manuscripts that report empirical studies (both quantitative and qualitative studies) of investigating issues and challenges related to the building of a VLC, the use or design of tools scaffold the growth of a VLC, and methods and efforts to create, build, manage, sustain and evaluate a VLC. In addition, this special issue welcomes manuscripts discussing conceptual frameworks or theoretical constructs related to VLC building.


Recommended topics of interest include, but not limited to:


Impact of a Virtual Learning Community


·       Learners/members' perceptions and their impact on their participation in a VLC

·       Learners/members' motivation in a VLC

·       Learners' identity development in a VLC

·       Teacher or a facilitator's role in a VLC

·       Role of a VLC on critical thinking and problem solving skill development

·       Impact of peer interactions on metacognition and self-regulation in a VLC

·       VLC and reflective learners


Designing and Evaluating a Virtual Learning Community


·       Tools and strategies to build, manage, and sustain a VLC

·       Tools and strategies to promote identity development in a VLC

·       Tools and strategies to facilitate peer interactions, collaboration and other VLC activities

·       Tools and strategies to facilitate reflection and self-regulation in a VLC

·       Tools and strategies to support complex problem solving in a VLC

·       Tools and methods to evaluate the effectiveness of a VLC


Conceptual Frameworks or Theoretical Constructs about a Virtual Learning Community


·       Community of learners and practice

·       Community of inquiry

·       Types of communities and their characteristics (e.g., task-based, knowledge-based, and practice-based, etc.)

·       Various constructs and factors influencing the success of a VLC




Bonk, C.J. (2009). The world is open: How Web technology is revolutionizing education. Jossey-Base.

Pea, R.D. (1985). Beyond amplification: Using the computer to reorganize mental functioning. Educational Psychologist, 20(4), 167-182.


Important Dates  


Submission due: 31st August, 2011 (extended)

Notification of decision: 20th October, 2011

Finalization: 20th November 2011

Publication schedule: December 2011


Submission Instructions


Manuscripts should be sent by email to the Guest Editor, Dr. Xun Ge (


Papers must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. A standard double-blind review process will be used for selecting papers to be published in this special issue. Authors should follow the instructions outlined in the KM&EL Journal Website (see URL


For more information about the KM&EL Journal, please visit the web site:




Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal (KM&EL)
ISSN 2073-7904


Maintained and Developed by:

Laboratory for Knowledge Management & E-Learning

Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong