Handbook of Distance Education

By Michael Grahame Moore; William G. Anderson | Go to book overview

14
Instructional Discussions in Online
Education: Practical and
Research-Oriented Perspectives
Donald J. Winiecki
Boise State University
dwiniecki@boisestate.edu

INTRODUCTION

It can be argued that discussion is one of the oldest forms of instruction (Gall & Gall, 1990; Larson, 2000). Online education through asynchronous learning networks (ALNs) provides the opportunity for the development of innovations in educational practice. Although instructional discussion is not an innovation, it is an essential component of social learning, communitybased learning, and other practices that are considered valuable features of online education (Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turoff, 1996; McIsaac & Gunawardena, 1996; Romiszowski & Mason, 1996). Thus, it makes sense to research this blend of the old (classroom discussion) and the new (ALNs) with the aim of understanding and improving practice.


FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION

What Do We Know About the Way People Talk When
They Have a Conversation?

Conversation analysis (CA) is a sociological research perspective that focuses on the construction and acknowledgement of societal practices through conversation (Couper-Kuhlen & Selting, 1996; Hutchby & Wooffitt, 1998; Sacks, 1963; Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1978; ten Have, 1999). CA has found that conversation is structured in regular ways (Ford, 1999; Heritage, 1997; Hopper, 1992; Hutchby & Wooffitt, 1998; Sacks, 1963; Sacks et al., 1978; Schegloff, 1972, 1986, 1991; ten Have, 1999; Winiecki, 1999, in press). In other words, a de facto “technology of conversation” appears to exist. Four fundamental components of this putative technology of conversation are turn-taking, overlap, repair, and formulations. Each of these components is described below.

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