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What about Communication? Action Learning in e-Learning Environment

Wendy Jansen
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Wilchard Steenbakkers
Royal Military Academy, The Netherlands
Henk van den Hooven
Royal Airforce, The Netherlands
Hans Jägers
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For more than forty years many organisations have trained their employees by using the concept of action learning. In action learning small and stable groups work together at real organisational problems with no easily identified solutions. During the process of problem solving the learning process is as much a goal as the finding of solutions. In contrast, e-learning (electronic learning) is a more recent phenomenon. In this working paper we discuss the relationship between both forms e-learning and action learning. A fundamental question we try to answer is whether it is possible to apply e-learning in action learning, a concept with a strong emphasis on personal contact, communication and mutual learning. And should the answer be positive, then in what way e-learning supports action learning. In this paper, we describe the application of e-learning by BOSNO, an organization with more than thirty years experience in the field of action learning. BOSNO is a collaborative effort between several Dutch companies, which have pooled their resources to educate jointly their middle management and staff. Recently BOSNO has experimented with e-learning environment in its international program. After the description of the lessons learned by BOSNO, we try to draw some tentative conclusions on whether, and to what extent, e-learning can play a role as learning environment in communication-rich learning concepts, such as action learning. The BOSNO experience shows that e-learning is a useful support for action learning. An interesting finding is that asynchronous communication in the e-learning environment appears to offer several advantages, whereas synchronous electronic communication is less appreciated by both the program manager as the participants. Further research on the relation between e-learning and other learning concepts and especially between e-learning and communication is recommended.

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Reference:Jansen, W., Steenbakkers, G.C.A., van den Hooven, H.M., Jägers, H. (2003). "What about Communication? Action Learning in e-Learning Environment," University of Amsterdam, Netherlands . Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 3(20). http://sprouts.aisnet.org/3-20
Keywords:e-learning, action learning, BOSNO
Item Type:Article - Volume 3 Article 20 (2003)
Email: Wendy Jansen (WendyJansen@concepts.nl)

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