The DEHub virtual learning space: a niche social network community of practice

Wise, Nathan and Tynan, Belinda (2011). The DEHub virtual learning space: a niche social network community of practice. In: Keppell, Mike; Souter, Kay and Riddle, Matthew eds. Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Concepts for the Modern Learning Environment. Hershey, PA: IGI Publishing (IGI Global), pp. 136–146.




Our concept of ‘virtual learning spaces’ is changing, as are the practices that are adopted within these spaces. To understand these changes, this chapter will provide an exploration of the conceptualisation and creation of an interactive, online, social network community of practice. The case that will be used is based around the Distance Education Hub (DEHub) which is both virtual and physical. DEHub is in the simultaneous process of constructing and facilitating a virtual space to support and encourage both knowledge dissemination and knowledge creation. The DEHub space focuses on learning as a cooperative, constructive, and dynamic process involving engaged communities of scholars, learners and practitioners. It will tackle the question of why this virtual learning space is defined as a niche social network and how this impacts on the conceptualisation and consequent development of virtual spaces — in this instance, co-development by the community. Finally, it will demonstrate through this analysis how changing concepts of ‘virtual learning spaces’ are put into practice through ‘virtual space’ design and development for creating and supporting niche social networks.

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