This study reports on a culturally-transforming group activity using asynchronously-mediated forums on the “discussion board” of Blackboard Academic Suite. Seventeen English as a second language (ESL) learners enrolled in a university-level writing course used the discussion board to engage in asynchronous collaborative forums where they presented and shared their paper topics and personal experiences, offered suggestions to their peers, and raised critical questions that were meant to help their peers think more critically about the assigned writing genres and their selected paper topic. The data suggest that participation in asynchronous computer-mediated communication (ACMC) forums can help students develop a deeper understanding of the writing assignments and encourage them to implement describing and narrating strategies to provide feedback to their peers. Students can also gradually produce feedback that is more complex, constructive, and challenging to their peers and begin improving their writing skills by developing more formal, sophisticated and complex language.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Asynchronous Threads: Ten-line postings of students paper topics and proposed feedback facilitated by online delayed conversations on the discussion board.
Peer-Feedback: Online student exchanges that provide suggestive comments on each other’s work that are aim at enhancing each other’s written discourse in L2 and intellectual skills.
Computer-Mediated Communications (CMC): Interactive online exchanges among students facilitated by computer-mediated forums such as the asynchronous discussion board or e-mails.
Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communications (ACMC): Electronic interactions that occur on delayed not in real time forums.
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): According to Vygotsky, instruction should capitalize not one’s currently accomplished or existing competency, but on enhancing one’s future learning constructs that are developmentally feasible or can be attained through challenging learning activities, that is acquiring new writing skills in L2.
Student-Initiated Feedback: Suggestive feedback or strategies initiated by students as a mean to assist their peers in enhancing their writing assignments, that is in terms of describing and narrating strategies.
Discussion Board: An electronic forum that forms part of Blackboard Academic Suite version 7.0 that promotes participation and collaboration among students in delayed forums.
English as a Second Language (ESL): Language learners whose acquire English as their target language.