A Case for Student Communication in Online Classes

7052 Words Jan 2nd, 2013 29 Pages
Read-only participants: a case for student communication in online classes
L. Nagela*, A.S. Blignautb and J.C. Cronje´ c aUniversity of Pretoria, South Africa; bNorth-West University, South Africa; cCape Peninsula
University of Technology, South Africa
(Received 5 April 2007; final version received 25 May 2007)
The establishment of an online community is widely held as the most important prerequisite for successful course completion and depends on an interaction between a peer group and a facilitator. Beaudoin reasoned that online students sometimes engage and learn even when not taking part in online discussions. The context of this study was an online course on web-based education for a Masters degree in
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Clark and Feldon (2005) concluded that a facilitator who participates and interacts with students prevents them from abandoning their course.
Better cognitive outcomes occur when students engage and form a virtual community of learners. The development of a community depends on online interaction with their peers and the facilitator. Learner satisfaction, perseverance, and cognitive outcomes characterize the formation of a virtual learning community.
Some contest participation as a prerequisite to learning, claiming students learn sufficiently by observation (Beaudoin, 2002; Sutton, 2001), and lobby for leniency towards lurking or read-only participation. This article responds to Beaudoin’s
(2002) article ‘‘Learning or lurking? Tracking the ‘invisible’ online student.’’ He reasoned that students sometimes engage and learn even when not taking part in online discussions with faculty and other students and showed that low profile students: spend a significant amount of time in learning-related tasks, including logging on, even when not visibly participating, and they feel they are still learning and benefiting from this low-profile approach to their online studies. (p. 147)
We investigated the importance of student online ‘‘visibility’’ apparent in the quantity and quality of participation. We explored as a case study the successful completion of a postgraduate online course by asking the following research questions. (1) How did online
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