Image: Thread map of online conversation

Student Discourse in an On-Line Environment


The use of technology to communicate ideas has become popular in modern society because it helps to make communication more efficient and convenient. E-mail, chat rooms, and message boards allow users to communicate synchronously and asynchronously. These technologies are valuable for distance learning programs because they enable people to communicate with each other regardless of location. We are using transcripts from on-line chat room sessions that were used to conduct office hours and took place as part of a course taught in a partial distance learning format. In this research project, our goal is to analyze two aspects of educational chat room sessions: communication and knowledge acquisition. We would like to know if the discourse events that occur in chat rooms are similar to those that occur in the traditional classroom. We are also interested in the ways in which the structure of the discourse events may affect learning. Initial results indicate that differences arise from the way the students must express themselves in on-line environments and these differences may have an impact on students. development of understanding. Research is ongoing to determine how the written online chat room dialogue differs from the face-to-face dialog of the conventional classroom.

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