It is essential for the library to participate in the development of an e-learning environment. In addition to document search, database, and e-journal services, the library must strive to develop new services for the new age of learning. Virtual learning environments (VLEs) and management learning environments (MLEs) are also taking on important roles as complementary and support tools in the traditional classroom. These new environments are expected to improve glessons and learningh as well as glibrary and learning information resources.h
Learning output is the result of knowledge creation processes. Knowledge creation in turn relies on information to stimulate and data to corroborate the new thoughts. To obtain the final output, the learner establishes a theme then divides, integrates, categorizes, and classifies the parts. Learning information resources are always linked to thoughts and used for reference. Thus, under a future learning support system, learning information resources continuously follow in the wake of thoughts in accordance with the learning phase of the student.
University libraries in Europe and the USA operate in synch with the learning flow patterns of students, providing the required materials and related information. According to a survey by the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UK), 74% of the respondents from higher education institutions stress the strategic importance of library and learning information resources in the development of e-learning infrastructure. In other words, these institutions recognize the importance of providing appropriate learning information resources to aid the student in independent learning.
For this research, we have designed an informal learning environment to encourage independent learning and to support knowledge creation. An informal learning environment is a place where the student uses free thinking to select the content of study and the information resources. In establishing such an environment, the dynamic thought processes of the student are defined as glearning topics.h The learning topics are thus the thoughts of the student expressed as language. Figure 1 shows a model of the relation between the learning topics and the information resources in an informal learning environment. In the figure, the upper layer shows the flow of topics (T) while the lower layer shows the flow of information resources (R) used. The student establishes topics independently. Topics (T) in turn change depending on the use of multiple resources (R). The sequence from T1 to T3 shows changes in student thinking in the knowledge formation process.
Under this system, as an educational resource, content is available through open courseware and a learning management system; and as a research resource, a bibliographic database called gBIBLISh is available from the field of library and information science. Learners can also use other web resources such as Google and Wikipedia. The system enables custom searches spanning multiple resources, an interface to view search results, and a function to record notes (Figure 2). After several students used the system, it was possible to observe each stage of learning. In the early stage, education and research resources are used to search for information on the things that each student finds interesting. At this point, students collect and save information from multifaceted perspectives. Learning topics are based on search words and are thus scattered across diverse subjects. In the middle stage, many students use the note function to attach comments to the information that has been collected. Gradually, the important subjects from the learning topic sequence are recorded and saved. From this point on, while referring to the learning topic sequence, students increasingly link notes and content. In the late stage, students grasp the information resource features and begin to use specific resources. As a result, many students switch from searches that span multiple resources to searches that use an individual resource. In addition, the notes and comments become sequences for use as information resources depending on the learning topic. Through learning, the information resources are always available for reference. However, this research shows that the manner in which information resources are used varies depending on each stage of thinking. Going forward, we would like to carry on further research into the interaction between the knowledge creation process and this system with the ultimate aim of establishing a complete knowledge creation library.