Online Interactions: Comparing Social Network Measures with Instructors' Perspectives

Online Interactions: Comparing Social Network Measures with Instructors' Perspectives

Pedro Willging (University of La Pampa, Argentina)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-723-2.ch010
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Abstract

In the virtual environment created by asynchronous posting boards, e-mail lists, chat rooms, and other communication tools, it may not be easy for an instructor to detect communication problems among the participants. In this chapter, a research study where social network analysis (SNA) methods were applied to a sample of online classes to investigate interaction patterns and compare to instructors’ perceptions is used to address social interactions in online environments. This study proved that SNA metrics and visualization of interactions are useful and potentially effective tools to analyze asynchronous online interaction patterns. The comparison of the results of a questionnaire administered to the instructors with the SNA results showed that the use of the SNA metrics and visualizations could reveal information the instructor is not aware of. Based on the findings from the study, recommendations for further research are provided. In the first part of this chapter, the importance of investigating interaction patterns in online environments is analyzed and basic SNA methodology is described. In the second part, the SNA methodology is utilized for analyzing online interactions.

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