|The paradigms of e-Education: An analysis of the communication structures in the research on information and communication technology integration in education in the years 2000–2001|
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There have been many signals in the research about creating immersive or non-immersive spaces on the platform offered by the Web. Different virtual space and room metaphors have provided advanced possibilities for the social innovations of Web. Three dimensional space can offer the simulation of reality by increasing the combinations and possibilities of using resources, developing new platforms and managing processes. It can be seen also as an integrative process of the previous paradigms. It has already initiated ideas of virtual institutions, like virtual schools and universities, which can be very complex systems. The virtual space metaphor will involve more sciences in the research and development because technology and learning research are too limited in understanding of the complex systems, managerial processes, communication and flows in the social systems. Castells (1996) calls these new virtual spaces “spaces of flows”. The advantage of this paradigm is the three dimensional virtuality which can be developed and researched like real life social systems. This paradigm could also be called “v-paradigm” because of virtual organizing as the triggering techno-economic innovation and by adopting the naming logic of the “e-paradigm”.
The research on virtuality is often connected to the ideas of virtual communities, communities of practices and emerging social structures, in addition to virtuality as a technical immersive application. In fact, virtuality as a simulation of a social system has made ICT a dynamic and active element of our life, not a passive component or tool of our technical and physical environment. This means that the instrumental research interest and realistic epistemologies would not particularly suit to that part of the research because of the complexity of the virtual systems. Contextual or radical constructive research, which is interested in understanding these phenomena as real life situations, could be beneficial in this paradigm. The problem is that these epistemic approaches are not very strong in the current rhetoric of the research articles analyzed in this thesis.
Virtual organizing of education involves a view of educational institutions in the research approach almost automatically because the research is interested in the emergence of new communities and new cultures of these communities. Paradoxically, the virtual paradigm could be more beneficial than the others in researching real life educational problems by asking, what the problems are in education that can be solved by virtual organizing. How much the virtual organizing is able to focus on the global issues of education remains unclear in this analysis. If virtuality were considered as an immersive feature of multimedia applications (like in games), it would not offer anything essentially new in this respect. If it is considered as a possibility to organize educational resources, services, communities and institutions in such a way that it opens access to education for those people who are now excluded, then virtual organizing of education would be a beneficial approach for the research and development of ICT integration in education globally.