The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation

By David Nicholas; Ian Rowlands | Go to book overview

Joining up information and learning

John Akeroyd

Universities are essentially knowledge-based organisations wherein information is acquired, manipulated and produced. This paper analyses the nature and components of information flows within a university including enabling standards such as those for metadata. It looks at some of the current technology relating to learning environments, addresses current virtual university developments and discusses relevant technologies. Finally the paper suggests that substantial organisational and cultural change will be needed to create a sustainable, technology based learning environment.


Introduction

Information is the lifeblood of universities; as knowledge, it is what we take in and consume and also what we produce. It is what we try and instil into students and into each other. And data is what we use to manage these processes and to improve and measure our performance. Learning is also at the heart of a university, whether through traditional models of lectures and books or through emerging models of networked and IT-based learning, or a combination of the two. It is paradoxical therefore that these two terms, information and learning, are scarcely seen together-if you look at the body of published literature, their juxtaposition is unusual. There are scholarly papers on management information in higher education and there are papers on universities as knowledge-based organisations, both of which contain elements about learning and information, but neither of which take a holistic view of the role of information in the modern university. This may be a matter of the lack of a common vocabulary across divergent disciplines, but it is also possible that we are only now seeing the emergence of information and learning as a single concept and it is possible that this is a result of the emergence of digital environments which are commonly accessible. In this paper I want to try and analyse and categorise information in the learning and educational context so as to better

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