Transparency in Cooperative Online Education


  • Christian Dalsgaard Aarhus University
  • Morten Flate Paulsen The Norwegian School of Information Technology



Online education, social networking, transparency, e-learning, cooperative learning, learning community


The purpose of this article is to discuss the following question: What is the potential of social networking within cooperative online education? Social networking does not necessarily involve communication, dialogue, or collaboration. Instead, the authors argue that transparency is a unique feature of social networking services. Transparency gives students insight into each other’s actions. Cooperative learning seeks to develop virtual learning environments that allow students to have optimal individual freedom within online learning communities. This article demonstrates how cooperative learning can be supported by transparency. To illustrate this with current examples, the article presents NKI Distance Education’s surveys and experiences with cooperative learning. The article discusses by which means social networking and transparency may be utilized within cooperative online education. In conclusion, the article argues that the pedagogical potential of social networking lies within transparency and the ability to create awareness among students.

Author Biographies

Christian Dalsgaard, Aarhus University

Christian Dalsgaard is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. His research is concerned with development and use of digital learning resources. Especially, his research is focused on open-ended learning resources which support self-governed activities of students. Further, he has worked with pedagogical evaluation of learning management systems, learning objects and social software tools. He has published articles within the fields of e-learning, learning theory, organizational learning and knowledge sharing.

Morten Flate Paulsen, The Norwegian School of Information Technology

Morten Flate Paulsen is Director of Development at NKI Distance Education and Professor of Online Education at the Norwegian School of Information Technology (NITH) in Norway. He is on the Executive Committee and is Vice President of the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) and on the European Association for Distance Learning (EADL) R&D committee. Also, he is regional editor for IRRODL (The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning) and EURODL (The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning) and is on the Editorial Board of He has worked with online education since he designed NKI's first Learning Management System in 1986 and has published many books, reports and articles about the topic. Many of his publications and presentations are available at his personal homepage at His book Online Education and Learning Management Systems is available via



How to Cite

Dalsgaard, C., & Paulsen, M. F. (2009). Transparency in Cooperative Online Education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(3).



Research Articles