Computer-Mediated Communication: Issues and Approaches in Education

Computer-Mediated Communication: Issues and Approaches in Education

Sigrid Kelsey (Louisiana State University, USA) and Kirk St. Amant (East Carolina University, USA)
Release Date: October, 2011|Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 324
ISBN13: 9781613500774|ISBN10: 1613500777|EISBN13: 9781613500781|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-077-4


While the majority of Internet users reside in industrialized nations, online access in the developing world has risen rapidly in recent years. As emerging technologies increasingly permit inexpensive and easy online access, the number of Internet users worldwide will only continue to expand.

Computer-Mediated Communication: Issues and Approaches in Education examines online interactions from different national, cultural, linguistic, legal, and economic perspectives, exploring how the increasingly international and intercultural Internet affects the ways users present ideas, exchange information, and conduct discussions online. Educators, researchers, and practitioners will discover ways to effectively use Web-based technologies, transcending barriers to participate and collaborate in international projects that reflect the scope and scale of today’s global interactions.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Community and Technology
  • Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Computer-Mediated Relationships
  • Cultural Differences
  • Cultural Representation in Online Media
  • Distance Learning
  • Global Communication
  • International Collaboration
  • International Education
  • Web-based Technologies

Reviews and Testimonials

... [E]ven within face-to-face educational settings, online technologies enhance learning and help present alternative educational options to students. Educators can and should embrace such methods to experience them now and to prepare for the next innovations.

– Loriene Roy, Professor, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Loriene Roy
Sigrid Kelsey, Kirk St. Amant
Sigrid Kelsey, Kirk St. Amant
Chapter 1
Jenna Ryan
Computer mediated communication (CMC), especially via Web 2.0 technologies like social networking and casting software, has become an essential part... Sample PDF
Meeting Them Halfway: Using Social Networking to Connect with Students
Chapter 2
Sharon Stoerger
Virtual worlds have the potential to foster new forms of educational communication among students and their instructors. These digital exchanges in... Sample PDF
Transmedia Communication: The Virtual Classroom Experience
Chapter 3
Heath Martin, Peter Hesseldenz
This chapter analyzes the roles of academic libraries in computer-mediated instruction through examination of past and current practices, existing... Sample PDF
Library Resources and Services in 21st Century Online Education
Chapter 4
Tatyana Dumova
This study focuses on assessment, an essential component of teaching and learning. It examines the usability of online quizzes and determines what... Sample PDF
The Usability of Online Quizzes: Evaluating Student Perceptions
Chapter 5
Rich Rice
According to Nielsen Internet ratings, YouTube totaled over 100 million unique users the month this chapter was written. What are those ratings... Sample PDF
ePortfolios and the Communicative Intellect in Online Education
Chapter 6
Kristin Whitehair, Kathy Tally
This chapter examines themes in scholarly literature regarding web-conferencing as applied at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). The... Sample PDF
Using Web-Conferencing to Increase Learner Engagement: The Perspectives of a Librarian and Educational Technologist
Chapter 7
Laura M. Rusnak
The intent of this chapter is to understand the implications of online education for the visual arts and how the objectives of a traditional art... Sample PDF
Visual Arts Online Educational Trends
Chapter 8
Laurie A. Henry, Clarisse O. Lima
This chapter presents a critical instance case study that describes the implementation of an international, telecollaborative project between... Sample PDF
Promoting Global Citizenship through Intercultural Exchange Using Technology: The Travel Buddies Project
Chapter 9
Diane Boehm, Lilianna Aniola-Jedrzejek
One effective strategy to prepare students to be successful participants in a globalized world is the use of online collaborative projects with... Sample PDF
From Myopia to Global Vision via International Collaboration: Lessons from Research and Experience
Chapter 10
Gaelle Picherit-Duthler
Global virtual teams are becoming vastly popular amongst public and private organizations. This prevalent way of organizing can be used for students... Sample PDF
How Similar or Different are We?: A Perception of Diversity in Global Virtual Teams
Chapter 11
Diego Liberati
This chapter presents a framework that creates, uses, and communicates information whose organizational dynamics allow individuals to perform a... Sample PDF
A Framework for Networked Experiments in Global E-Science: Perspectives for e-Learning in Global Contexts
Chapter 12
Tabitha Hart
Knowing how best to assess and evaluate the communication that takes place in online educational settings can be a challenge, especially when the... Sample PDF
Speech Codes Theory as a Framework for Analyzing Communication in Online Educational Settings
Chapter 13
Yun Xia
This chapter reports on a study in which different learning contexts in an online discussion were constructed, and the effects of these contexts on... Sample PDF
Students’ Evaluation of Online Discussion: An Ethnographic Construction of Learning Contexts
Chapter 14
Mariela Gunn, Elizabeth W. Kraemer
This chapter discusses several models of integrating information literacy instruction into computer mediated learning processes on university... Sample PDF
The Agile Teaching Library: Models for Integrating Information Literacy in Online Learning Experiences
Chapter 15
Jessica J. Eckstein
This chapter demonstrates the potential for social change in computer mediated communication (CMC) education. A foundational discussion of emerging... Sample PDF
Going Viral in the Classroom: Using Emerging CMC Technologies for Social Change
Chapter 16
Urai Salam
This chapter reports on the students’ interaction taking place within the virtual learning environment, WebCT. It is particularly critical of... Sample PDF
The Students’ Participation in WebCT: An Activity Theory Perspective on Online Collaboration of Knowledge Construction
Chapter 17
René Tanner, Tricia Amato
Communication deepens learning and builds community. Online classes are built around text-based discussions, and while studies show that students... Sample PDF
Building Virtual Communities: Can We Talk?
Chapter 18
Maura Valentino
This chapter studies the impact of the facilitator on the effectiveness of an online discussion forum. The study examined, categorized, and... Sample PDF
Using Traditional Classroom Facilitation Methods in Online Discussion
About the Contributors


CMC in Education

By Sigrid Kelsey, Louisiana State University and Kirk St.Amant, East Carolina University

Approaches to education continuously evolve as educators harness the ever-growing number of available technologies in an effort to meet the changing needs of students.  It is a process in which today’s instructors are continually adjusting their teaching methods to accommodate new modes of communication available to their students.  As quickly as new technologies arise, educators must design approaches and pedagogical techniques to take advantage of their potential for education.  At the same time, they need to address issues and problems the technology may introduce.  The result is a complex balancing act between that which is known and that which is new.  

In today’s classrooms and libraries, computer-mediated communication (CMC) is the norm.  With rare exceptions, students are digital natives: individuals who have grown up immersed in online media and who are well-adapted to CMC.  For this generation of students, communicating with smart phones, laptops, and other Internet devices is almost as natural as breathing, and as a result, they have mastered the use of applications such as SMS, social networking, e-mail, and video calling.  Educators must therefore seek ways in which to enrich their teaching to keep pace with the daily lives of contemporary students.  It is through interacting with students as digital peers that effective discussions and debates can take place and education can meet the needs and expectations of the 21st century.

New technologies, complemented by a greater amount of educational material available to a wider audience than ever before, introduce new avenues of communication.  The Internet and its related technologies offer instructional designers, educators, and librarians opportunities to develop learning environments that are conducive to instruction for today’s students.  As Dumova puts forth in her chapter in this collection, new technologies “promise to create learning environments that could transform many aspects of the traditional relationships between instructors and their students, including the presentation of course content, learning activities, student-teacher and student-to-student interactions, as well as assessment.” Computer-mediated communication is the current mode of delivery for many instructional activities, and the number of technologies available is often inspiring, and is, at times, overwhelming.

However, approached correctly, new technologies for computer-mediated communication have the potential to generate effective approaches to education by quickly integrating themselves into mainstream instruction in context where teachers and students alike swiftly adopt new communication techniques.  The developments emerging from such situations bring about benefits and challenges, and these factors affect education in a myriad of ways.  As an integral part of technology, CMC is a vital topic to research and explore as it relates to education, and each new technological development brings with it new facets of CMC to explore and research in relation to their potential use in educational contexts.  

Computer-Mediated Communication: Issues and Approaches in Education highlights current concepts, issues, and emerging trends relating computer-mediated communication and its issues in, and approaches to, education.  To this end, this volume contains eighteen thematically organized chapters that highlight best practices, strategies, approaches, technologies, case studies, testing, trends, information literacy, examples, and models for using computer-mediated communication technologies in different educational settings.  In order to provide readers with an understanding how CMC affects issues of and approaches to education this book
  1. Introduces readers to a variety of technologies that facilitate computer mediated communication in educational settings
  2. Provides case studies and research regarding these topics
  3. Discusses theoretical frameworks for studying CMC
A large and important component to this collection is the introduction and review of communication technologies used to mediate and facilitate education.  Blogs, mini-blogs, virtual worlds, video conferencing, ePortfolios, and course management systems are just a few of the ways in which educators are using computers to communicate with their students.  Thus, the collection’s first section, “Overview of Technologies and Current Trends/ Fundamental Concepts” includes six chapters that introduce, review, and provide ideas for integrating current technologies into educational practices.  To do so, the chapters in this first section provide readers with an in-depth look at various CMC technologies.  In so doing, the authors of these chapters provide analyses and recommendations for the strategic uses of such technologies in a variety of educational settings.  Now, more than ever, educators must teach about the numerous tools available online, and how students can find, use, and evaluate information.  The entries in this section offer an initial set of ideas readers can use to achieve these objectives.

Jenna Ryan’s chapter, “Meeting them Halfway: Using Social Networking to Connect with Students,” examines several popular technologies and their possibilities for use in higher education.   From the simple-to-use and popular social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to the more complicated CMC technologies like virtual worlds, Ryan reviews the technologies and related literature.  She also makes recommendations for the uses of such technologies in a way that would enhance the use of CMC in educational settings.  

Ryan’s chapter is followed by another discussing the use of virtual worlds in the educational setting.  Specifically, Stoerger puts forth a case study of the use of Second Life in several courses, including the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with Second Life. Martin and Hesseldenz, in turn, discuss the approaches to online information taken in academic libraries.   Dumova’s chapter presents results of a much needed survey that determined how students perceive the usability of online testing in Blackboard.  These findings bring to light several ways in which educators can make better use of online testing by using teaching strategies that utilize different pedagogical tools than face to face environments for better assessment practices.  Next, Rice’s chapter suggests ways in which educators can employ ePortfolios, and Whitehair and Tally’s chapter examines how web conferencing has brought about significant changes to the ways in which educators are able to communicate with their distant students. The overall section then concludes with Rusnak’s chapter that discusses the implications of online setting for visual arts, a discipline traditionally set in the classroom. 

Just as educators must adapt to the changing technological landscape, so must they prepare their students for working in a world where understanding CMC is critical to professional success.  Moreover, today’s student must be prepared to work in a global society where communicating with worldwide teams via online media is commonplace.   “Social Implications” – the second section in this collection –contains chapters that address the new global nature of society created by the international proliferation of CMC.  This section uses case studies and models that can inform educational practices and help educators who strive to prepare their students for participation in the modern global economy.

The section begins with Henry and Lima’s presentation of a critical instance case study that describes a collaborative project between grade schools in the rural United States and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Students involved in the collaboration learn to communicate through blogs as well as learn about the differences and similarities in each other’s cultures and daily life.  Through this use of CMC, students develop a sense of global citizenship, a vital trait to teach in today’s society.  The following chapter by Boehm and Aniola-Jedrzejek describe a similar kind of collaboration among college-aged students.  The chapter again emphasizes the importance of students to develop a global perspective in order to be successful in today’s economy.  Thus, the students are assigned to partake in a collaborative cross-global team effort.  It is a context that requires them to work as part of a globally-distributed team in which fellow students from another country and of a different culture interact via CMC technologies.  

In the section’s third chapter, Duthler describes international collaboration as well, in terms of how students’ perceive working on global virtual teams.   Next, Liberati suggests a framework that would enable physically disparate team members to pool resources and complete projects, for example, scientific experiments, without traveling.  The paradigm he presents could allow experiments to be executed by scientists and science educators working apart from each other.

Assessing and evaluating online communication at any level can be challenging.  In an environment that often lacks the cues available in face-to-face communication, conveying meaning can sometimes be more difficult.  Hart suggests using speech codes theory, which is grounded in the ethnography of communication, as a framework by which to evaluate and analyze computer mediated communication.  Specifically, she suggests that is has the potential to shed light on CMC in educational settings.  Xia’s chapter, in turn, examines student opinions of online vs. on-site classes and reveals what factors can affect student perceptions of what makes an online class more, as, or less successful than an on-site one.

Section three, entitled “Case Studies” presents case studies and models relating to CMC in educational settings.  Gunn and Kraemer, for example, discuss several models to integrate information literacy across a university’s curriculum.  According to these authors, information is communicated in the classroom and online through numerous technologies.  As a result, it is more important than ever for students to know how to find, evaluate, and use information.  Information literacy is often a focus of a university library’s mission, and Kraemer and Gunn present ways in which librarians can integrate information literacy into courses across the curriculum.

Next, Eckstein’s chapter presents a course project in which the students are required to make a public service announcement (PSA) video and share it by using Web 2.0 technology.   According to Eckstein, Web 2.0 technology has turned the web from a passive tool to a contributive environment, with students contributing to the web by posting on YouTube, Facebook, blogs, and other 2.0 platforms.  Studying how students interact with information is thus a vital component to understand the issues of CMC in education.  In examining this idea, Eckstien presents an approach for teaching students how to harness the possibilities of CMC to effect social change.

Section Four – “Online Collaboration/ Online Communities” – contains chapters that analyze how online communities form and how CMC affects them. Salam’s chapter, for example, points out how applying activity theory to analyze online discussion transcripts can assist educators in understanding participation and knowledge construction in an online environment.  Similarly, Tanner and Amato’s chapter examines online discussions and provides research-based suggestions to improve participation among students.  Then, Valentino’s chapter analyzes more than two hundred online discussions among students, and uses the results to deduce what types of instructor facilitation encourage the best discussions.

CMC is an ever-changing and growing phenomenon that will continue to shape and be shaped by educational practices.  These technologies offer educators incredible potential for transforming how they communicate with and teach students.  The chapters in the book offer educators a foundation to understand some of the issues related to CMC and education, and tools and frameworks to apply theories to teaching.  The editors hope readers will build upon this foundation to create new pedagogical approaches and generate original research that can facilitate the understanding of and uses of such technologies in a range of educational situations.

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Sigrid Kelsey is a Librarian at Louisiana State University. She is editor of Catholic Library World, and has co-edited several books including Best Practices for Corporate Libraries (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), and Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication (Information Science Reference, 2008). She a recipient of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s Forty under 40 award (2010), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) College Libraries Section (CLS) ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award (2010), the Louisiana Library Association (LLA) Anthony H. Benoit Mid-Career Award (2010), and the ACRL-Louisiana Scholar Librarian of the Year Award (2009).
Kirk St.Amant is an Associate Professor of Technical and Professional Communication and of International Studies at East Carolina University.


Editorial Board

  • Brent Henze, East Carolina University, USA
  • Beth Hewett, Independent Scholar, USA
  • Chuck Huff, St. Olaf College, USA
  • Constance Kampf, Aarhus School of Business, Denmark
  • Naomi Lederer, Colorado State University, USA
  • Rich Rice, Texas Tech University, USA
  • Loriene Roy, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • Stanley J. Wilder, UNC Charlotte, USA