Dancing with meta-communication for distance educaton

Today, we are living in the knowledge society. The rapid technological changes and developments in science obligate us to update nearly all knowledge, even if it was achieved yesterday too. This obligation is strongly emphasizing itself, especially in educational environments, for delivering our educational materials to the learners. Communication is not a new concept in our daily lives, but it is an effective issue, and a concept used for designing our messages and up-to-date knowledge. As Robert S. McLean stated: ‘Knowledge building is a theory of learning, which emphasizes the collaborative construction of knowledge by a group of learners and teachers. Students [improve] their understanding through sustained inquiry that pursues collective goals of understanding; it is driven by student [and teacher] questions and explanations, in self-directed small groups’ (McLean, 1999, p. 383).

This paper suggests and defends the idea that the meta-communication concept could help the teachers and course developers better redesign and reconstruct knowledge for building educational materials, especially in the distance education field and its applications, according to daily developments in science and technology.

The major objective of this paper is to discuss the structure of knowledge building, according to knowledge-building theory criteria and principles, and its relationship with communication concept, which surrounds its development. Graphical symbols that enable interaction between the user and computer (scroll bar, button, etc.), signs, symbols or small computer programs that define the action of graphical symbols, designed according to knowledge-building principles, may help facilitate and articulate meta-communication, and the components of knowledge building. This is particularly so in distance learning, where the communication usually cannot occur outside the system, as it could in a face-to-face environment.

Received: 25th July 2008

Revised: 29th September 2008

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