Title: Conversations of virtual learning communities: discourse and survey analyses of moderated online synchronous discussions

Authors: Hwee Ling Lim

Addresses: Communication Department, The Petroleum Institute, P.O. Box 2533, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abstract: In web-based education, virtual learning communities are formed to support interaction and attain explicit educational outcomes, with Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) technologies facilitating most of the interaction. From the sociocultural constructivist view that knowledge building occurs during dialogic interaction, little is known about the impact of online synchronous (chat) interaction on supporting knowledge construction, while online asynchronous interaction has been more widely researched. Moreover, analytical frameworks for educational Computer-Mediated Discourse (CMD), mainly designed for asynchronous discussions, are typically less sensitive to chat exchanges. This paper examines the impact of chat interaction on supporting the knowledge construction processes in two tutorial groups. The discourse analysis results revealed participant involvement in meaning negotiation that builds new knowledge. The survey results showed the availability of scaffolding and the appropriation of shared understandings that are characteristic of knowledge construction processes. These findings can guide the pedagogical design of online synchronous instructional environments that facilitate learning through the conversations of virtual learning communities.

Keywords: web based communities; learning communities; chat interaction; synchronous communication; computer-mediated communication; collaborative learning; sociocultural constructivism; discourse analysis; student experiences; online communities; virtual communities; e-learning; online learning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2008.019549

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2008 Vol.4 No.4, pp.434 - 458

Published online: 16 Jul 2008 *

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