Landow (2006, pp 284-285) gives a very nice example of the effect of using Hypermedia alongside Peter Heywood’s usual weekly topic based course on cell plant biology. He observed that students could follow links ahead into later materials, versus being over constrained by the current topics and resources to hand. This encouraged them to make links between items in the course, and look for more interesting opportunities to them as individuals for discussions and assignment topics. The wiki and hypertext elements added to the traditional weekly format course made possible a way for the class to work asynchronously, we well as to maintain class focus based on the weekly content and milestones.
I have come across this also in my use of Moodle along side the OpenVCE.net community portal (for asynchronous community support) and meeting spaces in Second Life, Adobe Connect or Skype (for synchronous meetings of the community). We wanted to have both elements of a cross course community resource area and a topic or time tabled element. We did this by having a standing OpenVCE community “course” using Moodle’s “social” format, and also a “topic” or “weekly”.
I would observe that in some studies we have done of communities who engage in distributed collaboration (Hansberger et al., 2010) we find that the types of functions they wish to perform together leads to a set fop requirements for both synchronous and asynchronous interactions, which can be facilitated by different tools.
Hansberger, J.T., Tate, A., Moon, B. and Cross, R., Cognitively Engineering a Virtual Collaboration Environment for Crisis Response, Proceedings of the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Working. (CSCW 2010), Savannah, Georgia, USA, 6-10 February 2010.
Landow, George P., (2006) “Reconfiguring literary education” from Landow, George P., Hypertext 3.0: critical theory and new media in an Era of Globalization pp.278-291,302-309, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.