VISUAL ILLUSTRATION OF ASYNCHRONOUS CONFERENCING: ANALYSIS OF LEARNERS’ INTERACTION
Zayed University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Abstract:Asynchronous conferencing in distance education media has been used in many educational institutions because of its ability to support interaction between students and course facilitators while simultaneously providing high levels of flexibility and accessibility. This feature is making online interaction the dominant choice for learning and teaching in many educational institutions worldwide. At Zayed University, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), over 4000 second language learners are equipped with the latest technologies. Faculty and students are encouraged to use these tools effectively. As I wished to establish the effectiveness of my teaching strategies and online interaction, based on Henri’s (1992) and Hara e al. (1998) models, I developed a research method to explore the nature of participation in this environment. Discussion threads representing students’ activity were selected. Two visual discussion clusters showing the flow of interaction were developed. The method was conceptualized upon the following questions: Do the students respond to previous messages? Does textual-based communication impede interaction among participants? Does the facilitator control or direct the dialogue? The illustrations of the discussion clusters showed that the students responded to peers’ messages and they controlled the discussion. The clusters also showed the need for the facilitator’s intervention when the context of the discussion was misunderstood.