F-LECCS – Open platform for virtual learning environments / ELI2011

F-LECCS is the leading project, which is supported by Japanese government. Fukui’s 7 higher educational institutions started to cooperate with each other in order to build “One virtual university environment” on a computer network by using open source software such as SNS, LMS, and e-Portfolio. This open platform allows all the users to access learning resources across the universities, and enables them to form intercollegiate learning communities as the “Communities of Practice.” This session will explore and discuss how we can improve learning methods and environments with ICT.

F-LECCS: Activities

F-LECCS

We would like to present the leading project “F-LECCS - Fukui Learning Community Consortium,” which is supported by MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan).

In our session, we will focus on the formation of “Learning Communities” as the “Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991)” with Open Source Platform, and we will also discuss how this open environment contributes to students’ learning.  Fukui’s 7 higher educational institutions started to cooperate with each other in order to build “One virtual university environment” by using open source computer systems such as SNS, LMS, and e-Portfolio.

The one of the most important lessons we learned from the project is that the comfortable blending of physical and virtual learning environments. Even if some expensive computer systems are installed, learning communities cannot be formed without existence of actual “Communities of Practice.”  Therefore, we carefully designed F-LCESS platform so that faculty members and students can easily access to the systems.  We also designed this platform open to the public so that learners in the system can actively communicate with local residents.  This also stimulates the learners’ motivation, and generates a synergistic effect.

This is the second year for the project, and our major findings in our project are as follows.

  1. One virtual university environment maximizes each university’s resources.
  2. Intercollegiate exchange cultivates “Learning Communities.”
  3. F-LECCS as intercollegiate Open ICT Platform plays a great role.

Learning communities in the SNS increased from 110 to 260, and the topics being discussed in the system increased from 1,200 to 4,100 within a year.

This year, we would like to analyze the result of this project and introduce an open package of F-LECCS, which includes not only open source computer systems but also the know-how for successful implementation.

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Open Source Systems: LMS / ePortfolio / SNS

Major Findings on this project

1. Virtual university environment maximizes each university’s resources.

Even if the learning resource in each university is limited, we could offer a more access and leverage potential learning resources by sharing them among universities. This is not a merger of universities, but a moderate coalition. Therefore, each university does not lose their identities, discretions and freedoms.

2. Intercollegiate exchange cultivates “Learning Communities.”

Because we can overcome some physical constraints such as distance and time by utilizing the framework of F-LECCS, many intercollegiate workshops and symposiums have been held regularly, and the better relationships accelerate the collaborations in various fields. Many undergraduate students also participated in intercollegiate activities, and they started to form some learning communities as “Communities of Practice.” There are about 110 learning communities in the SNS, and more than 1,200 topics are being discussed constantly. These results cannot be achieved without F-LECCS framework. To put our project into practice, we set up the consortium and five teams below.

3. F-LECCS as an intercollegiate ICT Platform plays a great role

In this project, ICT - Information and Communication Technology, plays a great role for the flexible and moderate alliance among universities. Although many educational institutions have installed IT based communication tools such as SNS, explicit outcome has not been reported yet. Main distinction of F-LECCS system is the combination of SNS, LMS, and e-Portfolio. SNS works as a tool for informal communication and learning within and among universities. Although many universities have adopted commercial-service based SNS such as Facebook, and MySpace, F-LECCS project built our own original SNS system so that we can control the learning environments and communities to some extent for our educational purposes. On the other hand, LMS is used in a classroom for formal communication and learning. Supporting these activities above, e-Portfolio helps users visualize their histories and outcomes of learning.

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Presenters

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Organization

Cited Referrences

Research Results and Papers

The aim and outline of F-leccs that combines the universities and colleges in Fukui prefecture

Authors

Osamu Yamakawa, Masatoshi Fujiwara, Takahiro Kagoya, Takehiro Tsubokawa, Masahiro Kikusawa, Koji Kitano, Kazutomi Sugihara

Abstract

The Universities and colleges in Fukui prefecture have begun to cooperate with each other to build a virtual university on a computer network environment. This project named F-LECCS (Fukui Learning Community Consortium) is going to build learning communities by using such systemsas SNS, LMS and e-Portfolio. This paper describes an outline of the project, and discusses its effectiveness to higher education.

Complex Network Analysis for the time development of friend-relationships on SNS

Authors

Osamu Yamakawa, Takahiro Tagawa, Koichi Yasutake, Takahiro Sumiya, Hitoshi Inoue

Abstract

The organizations of higer education in Fukui prefecture have operated an inter-campus SNS till April 2009. We have analyzed, in the complex network framework, the time development of the friend-relationships on SNS and the reading-relationships of blogs using logs of SNS from April to July. As the results, we have found the difference of time development between the statical network (friend-relationship network) and the dynamical network (blog-reading-relationship netowork). And both networks have indicated scale-free characteristics.

Pragmatic environments, methods and tools for the assessment of learning communities

Authors

Osamu Yamakawa, Takahiro Tagawa, Koichi Yasutake, Takahiro Sumiya, Hitoshi Inoue

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