Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Engaging Students in Online Conferences

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Engaging Students in Online Conferences

Article excerpt

Developments

One of the possible pitfalls of employing online interaction is the tendency of participants to read postings but contribute very little to the academic conversation. Dr. W. R. Klemm claims that such "lurkers" do not become engaged in the process and thereby limit their learning opportunity.

Although educators may believe they are "doing students a favor" by allowing them to be lurkers, Klemm points out that the natural tendency to avoid participation should not be tolerated. Students engaged in any online conference differ immensely in their skills and previous experience and may need encouragement to participate. Most have been conditioned to be observers rather than participators through exposure to "entertain me" modes of information exchange such as television and lecturing. Factors such as these contribute to a passive approach to online learning activities.

In addition, most conferencing software follows a topic/subtopic outline format that allows students to simply point and click, using no critical thinking skills or connections to their background knowledge of the subject under discussion. This is also true in threaded-topic conferencing in which messages are typically posted in chronological order. A better design, according to Klemm, would allow notes to be inserted by participants, causing them to contemplate both the content and context of the topic more deeply in order to decide what information to include and where it best fits. …

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