Scaffolding asynchronous communication

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Collecutt, Richard
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Computing
Unitec Institute of Technology
Joyce, Donald
Shukla, Ranjana
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
online learning
asynchronous discussion forums
Collecutt, R. E. (2008). Scaffolding asynchronous communication. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Computing, Unitec New Zealand, New Zealand.
This research identifies and studies the techniques and strategies used by New Zealand tertiary tutors in the process of encouraging participation, and ultimately learning, when using online asynchronous discussion forums. The last decade has seen considerable growth in online learning and the discussion forum now features as a mainstream teaching tool in both fully online courses and in blended delivery. Of interest are the strategies tutors use in online discussion forums: exactly how do tutors encourage an online class to participate and engage in meaningful discourse in a textual asynchronous communication medium? Twelve New Zealand tertiary tutors were interviewed in a semi-structured manner, gathering both demographic data and data from open-ended questions. The openended questions were designed to ascertain the tutors’ perceptions about the pedagogical considerations of online learning, the barriers students may face and the techniques the tutors use to compensate for these barriers. The results were analysed using qualitative methods, summarised and discussed. The study shows that a number of the tutors interviewed used a range of strategies across both the affective and cognitive domains, and these tutors were aware of which barriers their strategies are targeting. Where a narrow selection of strategies was used it was apparent that some of the barriers to participation were not being addressed.
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