Using Discussion Webs to Develop an Academic Community of Learners

Mary Jane Pluta, Educational Technology & Society, Jul 04, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a good article, even if the authors leave the term 'discussion web' undefined throughout (I assume they mean a discussion board with a linking capacity). Essentially, it is an analysis of the use of online discussion in a teacher course with an eye toward the development of community. Mostly I'm uncomfortable with this sort of analysis - 17 people dicussing things in isolation hardly seems like a community, and when things like 'chit chat' are classified as 'failures' I think the analysis is missing the point. But mainly I'm uncomfortable with stuff like this: "Meaning is a dialogic relationship between the question and the response." No it isn't. But more to the point, does the content tell us about the community (assuming there even is a community)? Why would we assume this? Via EDUCAUSE.
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