What Factors Promote Sustained Online Discussions and Collaborative Learning in a Web-Based Course?

What Factors Promote Sustained Online Discussions and Collaborative Learning in a Web-Based Course?

Xinchun Wang (California State University, Fresno, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jwltt.2007010102
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Abstract

Although the pedagogical advantages of online interactive learning are well known, much needs to be done in instructional design of applicable collaborative learning tasks that motivate sustained student participation and interaction. This study investigates the factors that encourage student interaction and collaboration in both process and product oriented computer mediated communication (CMC) tasks in a Web-based course that adopts interactive learning tasks as its core learning activities. The analysis of a post course survey questionnaire collected from three online classes suggest that among others, the structure of the online discussion, group size and group cohesion, strictly enforced deadlines, direct link of interactive learning activities to the assessment, and the differences in process and product driven interactive learning tasks are some of the important factors that influence participation and contribute to sustained online interaction and collaboration.

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