Title: Research on online learner participation in a web-based course

Authors: Wenhao Li; Yan Zheng

Addresses: Central China Normal University, 152 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430079, China. ' Central China Normal University, 152 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430079, China

Abstract: This study investigated online learner participation in the context of a web-based course. The course included seven chapters including synchronous audio discussion and asynchronous blog discussion. Data were collected from synchronous chat room participation, asynchronous blog writing and reading participation, the diagnostic test after each chapter, and the final exam. Content analysis and social network analysis were employed in analysing the data. The result showed that the content of discussion would be the trigger of engagement in synchronous participation. However, asynchronous participation to a large extent, takes place within subgroups due to the close relationship. The present research paved a way forward by integrating synchronous activities into an asynchronous setting. And it also provided teachers with a realistic picture on the possibilities and limitations of integrating blogs and audio discussions into the curriculum.

Keywords: student participation; web-based courses; social network analysis; asynchronous online discussions; blog communities; computer-mediated communication; web-based classrooms; social media; blogs; blogging; social networking; networks; online learners; synchronous audio discussions; chat rooms; blog writing; blog reading; diagnostic tests; final exams; examinations; content analysis; discussion content; engagement triggers; synchronous participation; asynchronous participation; subgroups; close relationships; synchronous activities; asynchronous settings; blog integration; teachers; virtual communities; web based communities; online communities; e-communities; electronic communities; curriculum; university students; universities; higher education; e-learning; electronic learning; online learning; internet; world wide web; online courses; China.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2012.047049

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2012 Vol.22 No.1/2, pp.59 - 72

Available online: 25 May 2012 *

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