Smaldino, Sharon E.
Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)
Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment
Web-based instruction--Public opinion; Graduate students--Attitudes
Working within the parameters of an online graduate course, this paper deals with the interactions within required academic discussion forums, optional academic discussions forums, and an optional nonacademic social discussion forum. As research demonstrates, the dynamics of a group affect one's attitude and action within a learning environment. Some data from prior studies suggests that students feel "less social" and more isolated within the online environment. To help alleviate the feelings of isolation, the design of instruction in one specific online course has included not only academic discussion forums that are opportunities for students to interact, but also optional academic discussion forums and an optional nonacademic social discussion forum. This study demonstrates that even though students appreciated the optional social forum, this forum may be extraneous and unnecessary and in some cases superfluous. Community building can be effectively implanted in the overall course design and can be positive enough to create the desired sense of social presence without the necessity of the optional forums. This research study determined that by using both academic and optional discussion forums within an online environment, an instructor could create a learning environment in which learning and cognitive development are not separated from the social context.
Pate, Ardelle, "Creating social presence through online discussion forums" (2008). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 2000.
vii, 179 pages
Northern Illinois University
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