Special Issue "Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Assoc. Prof. Marc Alier
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institut de Ciències de l’Educació, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: sustainability; education; ethics; privacy; open-source; information systems; guitar building; podcasting
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 1995, back when I was finishing my CS Engineering degree, the Barcelona School of Informatics started to use an intranet application called "Racó" [1] (Corner in the Catalan language) that could download lecture notes, deliver files to professors, and publish the grades of every course—that months previous had been published on the office doors of the professors. "Racó" is still in use, I used it just before I wrote these lines. Some of the professionals who worked on that project went to work for the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya [2], a new distance education university, based fully on the online interaction between students and professors. With just a couple of days a year of de-virtualization for exams.

Online learning is not new. In my memory and involvement as a student and professor in these two institutions, I can trace it back 25 years.

I can even go even farther with the idea of information systems in academic processes, back in 1989 when I first enrolled in a course in the School of Informatics sitting in front of a VT100 terminal connected to a VAX-VMS mini-computer running the first—to my knowledge—self-enrollment software. A software that ported to new architectures and the mobile-web of the XXI century still works today.

Computerized information systems (academic information systems) have become omnipresent to the point of invisibility in the education system. However, online learning has been a promise running in the fringes of the education system. Special universities like UOC, the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), and the Open University (OU), and experimental plans to introduce laptops or tablets in education that function in the traditional classroom as the frame for reference and safety net if something goes wrong. Schools and colleges have been able to work fine without embracing online learning.

Until now.

The crisis caused by the COVI19 pandemic has deeply affected the education system. Students, teachers, and managers have become suddenly confined at home. However, with varying degrees of success, classes have continued online.

All those experimental online learning technologies that we have kept on the sideline of education, have taken center stage. Any resistance to change that has been constraining the widespread adoption of online learning has been rendered pointless.

Online learning is being tested on the whole education system in the whole confined world. The lessons we learn during this period—still ongoing as I write these sentences—will be crucial for the future of education in what has been already referred to as the new normal.

UNESCO asserts that education is one of the objectives for sustainable development and, at the same time, education is one of the most powerful tools we have to fight for sustainable development. The use of ICT as a tool for democratizing and improving education is a big promise. Open education technologies, like open-source software, open standards for contents and interoperability, and open contents can be great assets for improving education, making it universal and accessible, while preserving cultural diversity. However, scale economies and perverse incentives may lead to scenarios where education is left in the hands of a few companies turning education into no more than big business. From there dystopic futures spring.

This Special Issue is seeking contributions that help us make sense of how academic information systems, e-learning, and knowledge management have helped in this difficult period and how it will become more relevant in the education system in the post-COVI19 era, especially concerning the application and development of open education technologies. Researchers and practitioners are welcome to submit your experiences, observations, and analysis.

[1] https://www.fib.upc.edu/en

[2] https://uoc.edu

Assoc. Prof. Marc Alier
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Education
  • E-Learning
  • Mobile learning
  • Anti-plagiarism
  • Academic information systems
  • Open education technologies
  • Learning analytics
  • Adaptative learning
  • Privacy

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
A Methodology to Study the University’s Online Teaching Activity from Virtual Platform Indicators: The Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5177; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095177 - 06 May 2021
Viewed by 214
Abstract
The Covid-19 pandemic led Catalan universities to do all teaching and evaluation online from 11 March 2020 until the end of term on 30 July. Conventional universities made the transition to online teaching in just a few days and suddenly virtual platforms become [...] Read more.
The Covid-19 pandemic led Catalan universities to do all teaching and evaluation online from 11 March 2020 until the end of term on 30 July. Conventional universities made the transition to online teaching in just a few days and suddenly virtual platforms become the centre of interaction between lecturers and students. Data that were obtained from the virtual platforms gave extremely valuable information about what was being done in class. This paper analyses data taken from Atenea, the Moodle virtual platform at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), during quarantine. The key indicators and a data analysis design for Moodle have been proposed, which reveal teaching developments at various levels (overall and at the centre and subject level). This is applied to study data from the UPC Moodle and the results are discussed. The methodology can be extrapolated to other universities with Moodle platforms because the UPC is a set of small campuses and centres. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
A Privacy-Oriented Local Web Learning Analytics JavaScript Library with a Configurable Schema to Analyze Any Edtech Log: Moodle’s Case Study
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5085; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095085 - 01 May 2021
Viewed by 387
Abstract
Educational institutions are transferring analytics computing to the cloud to reduce costs. Any data transfer and storage outside institutions involve serious privacy concerns, such as student identity exposure, rising untrusted and unnecessary third-party actors, data misuse, and data leakage. Institutions that adopt a [...] Read more.
Educational institutions are transferring analytics computing to the cloud to reduce costs. Any data transfer and storage outside institutions involve serious privacy concerns, such as student identity exposure, rising untrusted and unnecessary third-party actors, data misuse, and data leakage. Institutions that adopt a “local first” approach instead of a “cloud computing first” approach can minimize these problems. The work aims to foster the use of local analytics computing by offering adequate nonexistent tools. Results are useful for any educational role, even investigators, to conduct data analysis locally. The novelty results are twofold: an open-source JavaScript library to analyze locally any educational log schema from any LMS; a front-end to analyze Moodle logs as proof of work of the library with different educational metrics and indicator visualizations. Nielsen heuristics user experience is executed to reduce possible users’ data literacy barrier. Visualizations are validated by surveying teachers with Likert and open-ended questions, which consider them to be of interest, but more different data sources can be added to improve indicators. The work reinforces that local educational data analysis is feasible, opens up new ways of analyzing data without data transfer to third parties while generating debate around the “local technologies first” approach adoption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Change in Gap Perception within Current Practices in Assessing Students Learning Mathematics
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4495; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084495 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 349
Abstract
The COVID pandemic has touched many aspects of everyone’s life. Education is one of the fields greatly affected by it, as students and teachers were forced to move online and quickly adapt to the online environment. Assessment is a crucial part of education, [...] Read more.
The COVID pandemic has touched many aspects of everyone’s life. Education is one of the fields greatly affected by it, as students and teachers were forced to move online and quickly adapt to the online environment. Assessment is a crucial part of education, especially in STEM fields. A gap analysis was performed by expert groups in the frame of an Erasmus+ project looking at the practices of six European countries. Specialists teaching university-grade mathematics in seven European institutions were asked about their perception of gaps in the assessment of students both before (2019) and during (2021) the pandemic. This qualitative study looks at the difference in perception of such gaps after almost one year of online teaching. The analysis of their responses showed that some gaps were present before the pandemic, as well as others that are specific to it. Some gaps, such as the lack of IT infrastructure and the need to adapt materials to an online environment, have been exacerbated by the outbreak. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
Open AccessArticle
Readymade Solutions and Students’ Appetite for Plagiarism as Challenges for Online Learning
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073861 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 380
Abstract
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of online learning has increased. Inherently, the stakes of a sustainable approach to the challenges raised by the wide access to the Internet, the use of readymade solutions to meet didactical tasks, and students’ [...] Read more.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of online learning has increased. Inherently, the stakes of a sustainable approach to the challenges raised by the wide access to the Internet, the use of readymade solutions to meet didactical tasks, and students’ appetite for plagiarism have become higher. These challenges can be sustainably managed via a procedure aimed at constructively converting students’ appetite for plagiarism (SAP conversion) into a skill of critically approaching relevant materials that are available online. The solutions proposed by the specialized literature concerned with the problem of plagiarism can be grouped into five categories: better trained students, more involved teachers, the use of anti-plagiarism software, clear anti-plagiarism policies, and ethical education of the youths. The SAP conversion procedure is a solution targeting increased involvement on behalf of teachers. Its partial application in the case of the disciplines included in the undergraduate educational program of Sociology conducted by the Transylvania University of Brasov, where students’ evaluation is based on essays, has considerably decreased the amount of student plagiarism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
A Qualitative Analysis of Implementing E-Learning during the COVID-19 Lockdown
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3317; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063317 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 635
Abstract
The existing literature evidences the potential of the e-learning methodology, although some call it into question. Our study aimed to analyse the real scope of applying this methodology type to a lockdown situation like that caused by COVID-19. It could provide the scientific [...] Read more.
The existing literature evidences the potential of the e-learning methodology, although some call it into question. Our study aimed to analyse the real scope of applying this methodology type to a lockdown situation like that caused by COVID-19. It could provide the scientific and educational community with useful novel information on e-learning and its real adequacy for schools in pre-university educational stages. This qualitative study was designed using questionnaires with open-ended questions for students and semistructured interviews for teachers, management board members, and families of students of Primary and Secondary Education. The scripts of data collection tools were made ad hoc. The thematic analysis was carried out in accordance with the study dimensions by relating the access and use of technological resources in classrooms, implementing the e-learning methodology during face-to-face teaching, and finally knowing the effects of its application during remote teaching in the lockdown situation. The results clearly show a need to adapt and adjust the implementation of this methodology by considering not only its specificities, but also a combination of e-learning and traditional teaching methodologies can help to introduce information and communication technologies (ICT) into classrooms. To conclude, including such a methodology in the educational context can be argued for, provided that specific training is received to allow the potential of both online and traditional teaching to be leveraged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
Open AccessArticle
Knowledge Management and the Political–Pedagogical Project in Brazilian Schools
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2941; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052941 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Knowledge Management as a strategy to improve the quality of the institutional environment can be related to the coordination of activities that create, store and share knowledge. School Management has to deal with different tasks, such as planning, organization, leadership, guidance, monitoring and [...] Read more.
Knowledge Management as a strategy to improve the quality of the institutional environment can be related to the coordination of activities that create, store and share knowledge. School Management has to deal with different tasks, such as planning, organization, leadership, guidance, monitoring and evaluation of all the processes necessary to ensure the promotion of students’ learning and training. In this context, the Political–Pedagogical Project assists School Management, since it is an important document for the school organization, containing the school’s identity as well as the plan to achieve the best teaching and learning process for the school community. In this sense, the objective of this research was to demonstrate how the Political–Pedagogical Project can promote Knowledge Management at the school level. The methodology used was exploratory and bibliographic research. The results obtained in this paper show that the Political–Pedagogical Project strengthens School Management when it is supported by Knowledge Management, considering that there is an improvement in the promotion of the quality of the organizational environment, as well as the elucidation of effective learning for teachers and students through democratic management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Emotional Intelligence, Knowledge Management Processes and Creative Performance: Modelling the Mediating Role of Self-Directed Learning in Higher Education
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2933; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052933 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 498
Abstract
Grounded on the Knowledge Based View (KBV), this study examines the effects of a knowledge management enabler (Emotional Intelligence) on knowledge management processes (KMPs) in research universities. It investigates the direct effect of KMPs on creative performance. This study further examines the mediating [...] Read more.
Grounded on the Knowledge Based View (KBV), this study examines the effects of a knowledge management enabler (Emotional Intelligence) on knowledge management processes (KMPs) in research universities. It investigates the direct effect of KMPs on creative performance. This study further examines the mediating role of Self-directed Learning in a relationship between KMPs and creative performance. This study used a sample frame of 248 academic and administrative personnel from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Pakistan. The relationships were tested through a partial least squares structural equation modelling method. The results reveal that Emotional Intelligence (EI) as an enabler has a positive and significant impact on KMPs. However, a direct relation between self-directed learning and creative performance is insignificant. Also, established associations were found to be positive and significant. This study’s findings validate the academic experience of EI and suggest how academics and administrators of HEIs can value KMPs and the self-directed learning that strengthens creative performance. With the increased importance of EI and KMPs in HEIs, there is a lack of studies investigating the relationship between EI, KMPs and creative performance. This study empirically examines the interface of EI, KMPs and creative performance in HEI’s and enriches the existing literature by exploring the mediating role of self-directed learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
E-Learning Services to Achieve Sustainable Learning and Academic Performance: An Empirical Study
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2653; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052653 - 02 Mar 2021
Viewed by 553
Abstract
E-Learning has proven to be the only resort as a replacement of traditional face-to-face learning methods in the current global lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. Academic institutions across the globe have invested heavily into E-Learning and the majority of the courses offered in [...] Read more.
E-Learning has proven to be the only resort as a replacement of traditional face-to-face learning methods in the current global lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. Academic institutions across the globe have invested heavily into E-Learning and the majority of the courses offered in traditional classroom mode have been converted into E-Learning mode. The success of E-Learning initiatives needs to be ensured to make it a sustainable mode of learning. The objective of the current study is to propose a holistic E-Learning service framework to ensure effective delivery and use of E-Learning Services that contributes to sustainable learning and academic performance. Based on an extensive literature review, a proposed theoretical model has been developed and tested empirically. The model identifies a broad range of success determinants and relates them to different success measures, including learning and academic performance. The proposed model was validated with the response from 397 respondents involved with an E-Learning system in the top five public universities in the southern region of Saudi Arabia through the Partial Least Squares regression technique using SmartPLS software. Five main factors (Learner’s Quality, Instructor’s Quality, Information’s Quality, System’s Quality and Institutional Quality) were identified as a determinant of E-Learning service performance which together explains 48.7% of the variance of perceived usefulness of ELS, 71.2% of the variance of use of the E-Learning system. Perceived usefulness of ELS and use of ELS together explain 70.6% of learning and academic performance of students. Hence the framework will help achieve the sustainable and successful adoption of E-Learning services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
The Digital Competence of Pre-Service Educators: The Influence of Personal Variables
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2318; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042318 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 473
Abstract
Currently, 21st century students need competences that enable them to adapt to a new type of individual information and individual knowledge relationship, and, therefore, the education system should contemplate new ways for learners to develop in accordance with this so-called information and knowledge [...] Read more.
Currently, 21st century students need competences that enable them to adapt to a new type of individual information and individual knowledge relationship, and, therefore, the education system should contemplate new ways for learners to develop in accordance with this so-called information and knowledge society. One of special importance is so-called digital competency. This article presents the results of a research study to determine the influence that the variables of gender, age, and academic degree have on the acquisition of digital competence by pre-service educators, with a sample of 370 students from different education degrees from the University of Salamanca (Spain). A quantitative methodology was used, employing a non-experimental method and the electronic survey technique to collect information on the dimensions of knowledge, as well as the management of and attitude towards information and communication technologies (ICTs). Data were analyzed inferentially from a comparison of means using nonparametric tests. This analysis was completed with the incorporation of Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves, which allowed us to graphically verify the differences between the subsamples and thus compare the different groups in relation to the proposed dimensions. The main conclusion was that the three variables studied can be considered as influential, though not determinant, in the acquisition of digital competency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Avoiding the Dark Side of Digital Transformation in Teaching. An Institutional Reference Framework for eLearning in Higher Education
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2023; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042023 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 968
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to define a reference framework for introducing eLearning practices in mainly face-to-face higher education institutions. We suggest a suitable adoption and management of associated infrastructures and processes, in order to guarantee the ethical use of data in [...] Read more.
The purpose of this paper is to define a reference framework for introducing eLearning practices in mainly face-to-face higher education institutions. We suggest a suitable adoption and management of associated infrastructures and processes, in order to guarantee the ethical use of data in the related academic and learning analytics. A theoretical framework is proposed after years of practice and experience in the institutional government of IT processes related to learning technology. The digital transformation of teaching should imply the right technological decisions made by people and for people, in order to achieve a more inclusive, participative, and human university supported by technology. digital transformation is a social requirement of governments, companies, and institutions, and it should take into account the associated risks of the unethical use of technology, which leads to the dark side of transformation processes. eLearning approaches, especially with the influence of the COVID-19 outbreaks, are increasing the need for digital mechanisms in universities. Further, there is a need for strategical support and reference models if we are to avoid these undesired effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Social Presence in Online Classes Using Virtual Conferencing: Relationships between Group Cohesion, Group Efficacy, and Academic Performance
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1988; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041988 - 12 Feb 2021
Viewed by 703
Abstract
One of the important issues that computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) and human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers want to solve through cooperative system design is the improvement of performance. The same is true for virtual learning environments. The role and importance of technology in education [...] Read more.
One of the important issues that computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) and human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers want to solve through cooperative system design is the improvement of performance. The same is true for virtual learning environments. The role and importance of technology in education have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the need to explore factors that influence social and academic efficacy in virtual environments has increased based on the explosion in online virtual teaching environments and virtual conference apps. Based on the theoretical description of group cohesion for the purpose of enhancing further collaboration, this paper asks what role group cohesion plays and how significant it is to group efficacy and performance in virtual learning environments, and also whether a sense of social presence in a virtual learning environment plays a significant role in optimizing group cohesion and, thus, group performance. Experimental studies were conducted on a total of 121 people consisting of 35 virtual learning groups. Results show that a sense of social presence has a positive effect on group efficacy, and that the adjustment effect of social presence has significant positive effects on group cohesion and group efficacy. This study provides a theoretical and empirical basis for the design of methods that can maximize positive effects in support of group learning and collaboration in virtual learning environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Co-Operative Learning and Resilience to COVID-19 in a Small-Sized South African Enterprise
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1976; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041976 - 12 Feb 2021
Viewed by 671
Abstract
Constraints imposed by the shrinking resources and the climate change dynamics necessitate a behavioral change to increase knowledge exchange and optimize resource utilization. Existing entrepreneurship and innovation practices are therefore undergoing transformation to adapt production systems to the post-COVID-19 reality of increased risks [...] Read more.
Constraints imposed by the shrinking resources and the climate change dynamics necessitate a behavioral change to increase knowledge exchange and optimize resource utilization. Existing entrepreneurship and innovation practices are therefore undergoing transformation to adapt production systems to the post-COVID-19 reality of increased risks of calamities within a context of shrinking resources. This paper uses a knowledge-centered crisis management framework to examine how enhanced knowledge sharing through co-operative learning can be applied to induce higher innovation performance and more efficient resource utilization structures during crises comparable to the current pandemic. Using the collaborative learning experiences of a small enterprise producing ecological fertilizers, this study was able to link crisis resilience enhancement to increased knowledge exchange between business entities connected through the agro-ecological value chain. New insights generated through the co-learning process were found to constitute a key input for strengthening the required capability endowments that enable the organization and its partners to weather the COVID-19 crisis and lay the foundation for the sustainability of post-COVID-19 operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Systems, E-learning and Knowledge Management)
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