Online Learning Spaces: Beyond the Text

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  • Online publication capitalizes on multimedia and community-building applications.
  • Besides engagement and interaction, online publication supports an environmentally sustainable approach.
  • In moving to an enhanced online format, EQ also becomes a new type of learning space.

As the reviewers discussed the rich offerings submitted on the theme of learning spaces, we began to explore how EQ's change to an exclusive but enhanced online format will in itself become a new type of “learning space.” At the same time, in making the move from a combined print/online medium to a solely online version, EDUCAUSE Quarterly will continue to fulfill the four chief functions of a traditional scholarly journal:

  • dissemination of information,
  • quality control,
  • recognition of authors, and
  • preserving the canonical archive.

The EQ editorial philosophy continues to emphasize dissemination of information about the practical application of technology in colleges and universities. EQ will maintain its rigorous standards of peer review, both to ensure quality and to provide proper scholarly avenues for professional publication, and we will work to archive the many different media offered in each issue.

As Diana Oblinger noted in the final print edition of EQ, the online format will make it possible to capitalize on multimedia and community-building applications that enhance the magazine's value. Beyond the content, readers will be able to experience and interact with information and each other in more engaging ways, all while adopting a more environmentally sustainable approach.

As technology advances and new resources become available, moving beyond traditional learning spaces has become common. The contributions to this issue demonstrate many of those concepts.

The exchange of ideas within the virtual environment occurs on several levels according to the resources available.

  • Collaboration can take place as an e-mail exchange among colleagues, with ideas readily discussed and solidified in writing.
  • Use of a wiki to create a joint writing project is common among academics who are geographically dispersed and limited by deadlines.
  • Discussion among readers and authors is encouraged by blogging and other social media.

As journals move from the traditional to an online format, the lengthy times devoted to peer review, author revision, design and layout, and print publication have shortened substantially. Initial submissions are routinely e-mailed to reviewers across the country, with comments provided within weeks if not days. Distribution is eliminated — the online magazine is immediately available as soon as it goes live. As Oblinger noted, online journals present benefits including "… the timeliness, flexibility, and ease of access online content offers."

The online version of an electronic journal can promote comments from readers using the available comment and blog features on the website, often leading to additional communications from authors and other readers responding to those comments. Online features can include multimedia and hypertext linking. Additional advantages include flexible lengths of contributions, more indexing possibilities, cross-referencing, unlimited color images (so costly to reproduce on paper), and intermeshing of data, interpretation, and discussion (think of data sets that can be queried online, map/distribution searches, and visualizations).

While it remains to be seen how swiftly EQ contributors will exploit these possibilities, we believe the freedom afforded by electronic distribution will have major appeal to authors. E-publication and hypertext enable authors to structure their contributions in many ways, building levels of detail that allow readers to choose the most appropriate for their goals. The opportunities are exciting for all of us.

Cynthia Gautreau ([email protected]) is an Assistant Professor, Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, California State University, Fullerton, and a member of the EQ review committee.

Cynthia Humes ([email protected]) is Chief Technology Officer and an Associate Professor of Religion at Claremont McKenna College and a member of the EQ review committee.