National Research University "Higher School of Economics" (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 223-231
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The paper discusses the desirability of using an online forum for academic purposes. First, the author speaks about research that has already been conducted in this field. Secondly, advantages and disadvantages of applying online forums in teaching are outlined. Finally, the author describes the experiences of two online sessions held in 2010 and 2011.
Online activities were scrutinized for their utility in classroom. Scholars studied social networks that facilitate team-building and knowledge- or opinion-sharing, online courses that provide education for external students, intranets and a combination of in- and off-class teaching.
The idea of an Internet-based forum used for educational purposes was offered by Professor Gary Scudder (Champlain College, Vermont, USA): two groups of students across the seas get together to discuss an issue chosen for them by their professors. The site is
The project usually lasts four weeks: 1) introductions and perceptions; 2) obligatory reading of a certain fragment on the topic or watching a topic-related video and then answering the questions; 3) the continuation of the discussion focusing on some particular issues and 4) conclusions and saying good-byes.
In the springs of 2010 and 2011 we held two sessions each on the expanding role of the internet in the democratic political process. The starting reference point for discussion was the text titled “Background – Evolution of the e-Election and Digital Democracy”.
To compare the results, two criteria were chosen: 1) the nationality; 2) the year of the session. Afterwards the overall trends in political thinking of today’s young people were extrapolated.
The length of posts and the number of students willing to talk about the issue testify as criteria for its importance for them.
Both years the most widely discussed issues were (in order of significance) 1) the opportunity of accessing a wide range of sources online and the reliability of the information provided there; 2) the comparison of the Internet and other media as tools for a political game; 3) the ability of the Internet to bring politicians closer to voters; 4) a possibility of arranging campaigning online; 5) the opportunity of forming your own opinion after analyzing a number of sources; 6) low political awareness and activity of Russians; 7) the ability of the Internet to attract and mobilize young voters; 8) a possibility of entertainment-based online electioneering.
Other topics, that received less attention, are of interest, too.
In the 2010 session students introduced the topic of e-voting. Both groups rejected this idea because of a hacker alert. But in 2011 Americans were more in favour of the idea. Both groups noticed a sad trend of making your choice by relying on your favourite celebrity’s opinion. Russians mentioned irritating tactics that the politicians’ campaigning teams apply to attract a voter’s attention. They also urged politicians to increase their presence in social networks. Americans called today’s politics ‘YouTube Politics’. They also expressed their concern for low political awareness in their country. Besides they believe that the Internet may discredit the political process.
The understanding of today’s young people’s ideas about politics is critical as the future of the country depends on them and it is crucial to raise their political awareness and encourage them to be politically active for them to make a sound decision.
Online forum, politically aware, politically active, politicans, politics, voters.