About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4312-4318
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1929

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

AT FACE VALUE: WHY DO INDIVIDUAL STUDENT USE EMOTICONS WITHIN TEXT-BASED ONLINE ACADEMIC DISCOURSE?

T. Avery

University of Toronto (CANADA)
This paper will focus on ways in which students use emoticons in text-based online academic discussions. Emoticons can add context to text-based discussions. In the early days of computer-mediated conferencing (CMC), emoticon use has been a topic of discussion (Hiltz, 1986; Feenberg, 1989) with four emoticons represented consistently in online learning environments (OLE): the smiley emoticon, the sad emoticon, the wink emoticon, and the tongue emoticon (Phirangee & Hewitt, 2016, 74). A literature study of the use of emoticons reveals common themes around user-defined functions. Emoticons are more than words alone, making it easier to convey feelings by allowing emotional distance and still showing vulnerability. Emoticons clarify meaning; they can transform an apparently negative statement into something more approachable by adding a smiley face, or they may hint at sarcasm by adding a winking face to a statement that is overtly positive. In online discussions, emoticons are being used more often, yet few studies deal with the reasons individual students use emoticons within text-based online academic discourse. In a virtual discussion, emoticons convey social presence and conventions of politeness which humanize discourse and increase positive engagement. Emoticons also serve academic functions, such as allowing the user to indicate agreement or willingness to share resources, or introducing a new perspective. Emoticons do not only express emotion, they are also a way to moderate discussion and to add humour.

Students are not haphazard when they use emoticons; emoticons are used deliberately for an intended effect. The choice of which emoticon to use is semi-conventionalized with a high level of agreement around broad categories. Individual expression of one emoticon, or a combination of emoticons has a certain level of creativity in both meaning and use which allows the user to enhance a text-only message. In a social constructivist approach, individual learning is framed within a social and cultural foundation. Interaction and collaboration with others is part of a vibrant, knowledge building community.

This study is significant because while today’s learners are savvier about expressing themselves online, teachers need to understand what is intended when students use emoticons in discourse including encouraging these students to express themselves in meaningful ways when educators are in the dialogue. Emoticons, a form of paralanguage, fill a gap in online discussion when the traditional verbal and visual cues are absent. Students, while they overtly value the expanded discourse enabled by emoticons, are hesitant to use emoticons in academic discussions when the teacher is ‘present’. Teachers who understand the varied levels of strategic use of students of emoticons as a form of paralanguage can model and encourage emoticon use within the discussion. In this way, educators help students fill in the gaps between verbal and non-verbal exchanges and enable a more vibrant exchange within the online community of knowledge.
@InProceedings{AVERY2017ATF,
author = {Avery, T.},
title = {AT FACE VALUE: WHY DO INDIVIDUAL STUDENT USE EMOTICONS WITHIN TEXT-BASED ONLINE ACADEMIC DISCOURSE?},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.1929},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.1929},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {4312-4318}}
TY - CONF
AU - T. Avery
TI - AT FACE VALUE: WHY DO INDIVIDUAL STUDENT USE EMOTICONS WITHIN TEXT-BASED ONLINE ACADEMIC DISCOURSE?
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1929
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 4312
EP - 4318
ER -
T. Avery (2017) AT FACE VALUE: WHY DO INDIVIDUAL STUDENT USE EMOTICONS WITHIN TEXT-BASED ONLINE ACADEMIC DISCOURSE?, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 4312-4318.
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