Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal (KM&EL), Vol 3, No 4 (2011)

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How to Leverage Virtual Learning Communities for Teaching Agile Communication Skills? The eGroups Case at the University of Münster in Germany and Massey University in New Zealand

Christina vom Brocke


Global business life nowadays is marked by quickly evolving forms of cooperation. These are often set in virtual space where various members from different countries are brought together in order to collaborate. This trend calls for specific abilities in communication that respond to the challenges evoked by the ever evolving and newly forming nature of international virtual project teams. In this paper, these abilities are called “agile communication skills”. The paper reports on the conceptualisation and implementation of a Virtual Learning Community (VLC) in a longitude study designed to foster so-called “agile communication skills”. Our research presents an approach where VLCs are used in order to create authentic evolving cooperations between students. For this matter internet technology seemed to prove as a key enabler. However, the mere use of technology does not suffice on its own. We, thus, identified design principles of VLCs that appear to be critical factors for successfully implementing such communities. We applied design-oriented research by grounding our model in prior work and formatively evaluating it in multiple case studies over a period of two years. In this paper we present the matured model and show what features characterise an eLearning environment to teach agile communication skills in a university setting. In addition we report on evaluating this model in a real-life application scenarios by giving illustrating examples from the final case study between the players involved: the Massey University in New Zealand and the University of Münster in Germany.

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


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Laboratory for Knowledge Management & E-Learning

Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong