The Virtual Learning Commons (VLC): Enabling Co-Innovation Across Disciplines

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Deana D Pennington, Aida Gandara and Nicholas Del Rio, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, United States
A key challenge for scientists addressing grand-challenge problems is identifying, understanding, and integrating potentially relevant methods, models and tools that that are rapidly evolving in the informatics community. Such tools are essential for effectively integrating data and models in complex research projects, yet it is often difficult to know what tools are available and it is not easy to understand or evaluate how they might be used in a given research context. The goal of the National Science Foundation-funded Virtual Learning Commons (VLC) is to improve awareness and understanding of emerging methodologies and technologies, facilitate individual and group evaluation of these, and trace the impact of innovations within and across teams, disciplines, and communities.

The VLC is a Web-based social bookmarking site designed specifically to support knowledge exchange in research communities. It is founded on well-developed models of technology adoption, diffusion of innovation, and experiential learning. The VLC makes use of Web 2.0 (Social Web) and Web 3.0 (Semantic Web) approaches. Semantic Web approaches enable discovery of potentially relevant methods, models, and tools, while Social Web approaches enable collaborative learning about their function. The VLC is under development and the first release is expected Fall 2014.