Managing an Academic Institution using the Metaphor of Virtual Community

L. Colazzo, S. Marchiori, and A. Molinari (Italy)


virtual community, e-learning


The paper presents an academic institution information system managed using the metaphor of “virtual community”. Virtual communities have been created in recent years thanks to the diffusion of Internet and the WWW, and can be useful to the creation of proper technological infrastructures for the academic realities. The virtual community idea comes from the studies concerning the sociological concept of community, plus the effects of the computer-mediated communication on the structure of the human interaction. Accordingly, we built a system that pervasively uses the concept of virtual community to aggregate people working in an academic institution, specifically the Faculty of Economics in our University. This approach provided, in our experiences, many advantages to the general management of the institution and to the quality of services that are and will be offered to the participants. Nevertheless, the complexity of the relationships, roles, activities performed, power positions, written and unwritten rules, all these issues created many problems to the design and implementation of the system. We will outline the main problems founded in our experience.

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