Virtual Communities and Mobile Applications in Web Education: A Case Study

L. Colazzo, A. Molinari, and N. Villa (Italy)


Mobile learning, virtual communities, e-learning, lifelong learning, Web 2.0


This paper explores the possible relationships between virtual communities systems and mobile devices in web education contexts. The connection is surely interesting and profitable, due to the characteristics of mobile devices and collaboration tools. However, virtual communities as intended in our platform is not exactly a typical social network platform, but aggregates in private communities of scope people that are enrolled in the community, mainly for educational reasons (classrooms, research groups, students’ communities etc.) . In this paper, we describe the development of the mobile extensions of a virtual communities system mainly used in web education settings. This is the result of the cooperation between the Laboratory of Maieutics of the University of Trento and the Institute of Advanced Management System Research (IAMSR), Åbo Akademi, Turku (Finland). The objective was to create mobile extensions to the services already provided by our virtual communities’ platform, equipped with e-learning services, specific tools for online collaboration as well as services typical of web 2.0. The resulting application, called MobiC (Mobile Community), was released at the beginning of 2009 and is now being tested and extended to various fields, among which to life-long learning projects in which our group is involved. We further present a user-centered design test devoted to improve the interface of the mobile applications, which during some usability analysis has demonstrated a crucial aspect for the successful usage of mobile services.

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