Title: Mapping alternative discourse structures onto computer conferences

Authors: David Jonassen, Herbert Remidez Jr.

Addresses: Learning Technologies and Educational Psychology, University of Missouri, 221C Townsend Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, USA. ' 2801 S. University Ave., Rm. 231 RBUS, Little Rock, AR 72204, USA

Abstract: The ubiquity of asynchronous discussion boards makes them a key knowledge-building tool in online learning courses. However, online discussions are often less focused than necessary because learners lack skills in analysis, argumentation, and other rhetorical skills. Rhetorical skills can be scaffolded in online discussion boards by constraining the kinds of comments that learners can contribute to the discussion. We describe a system for imposing different discourse structures onto conversations in order to scaffold different forms of reasoning and some preliminary research findings.

Keywords: scaffolding; argumentation; rhetorical structures; discussion boards; online computer conferencing; discourse structures; knowledge building tools; online learning; e-learning; online conversations; computer support for collaborative learning; CSCL.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKL.2005.006254

International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 2005 Vol.1 No.1/2, pp.113 - 129

Published online: 09 Feb 2005 *

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