Toward A Quantitative Analysis Of Online Communities

Dawson, Shane P., Winslett, Greg M., & Burr, Les (2004) Toward A Quantitative Analysis Of Online Communities. In Online Learning and Teaching Conference: Exploring integrated learning environments, 3 November 2004, Brisbane, Australia.

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In flexible learning environments there has been an increased focus on developing resources that promote and facilitate the emergence of online communities. The formation of, and active participation in, a learning community has been suggested to facilitate the learning process (Rovai, 2002; Palloff & Pratt, 1999). Current literature examining the formation and development of online communities has predominantly centred on the qualitative analysis of posted messages (within an asynchronous discussion forum) as evidence for community attainment and sustainment (Brook & Oliver, 2003; Hew & Cheung, 2003). The search for key words and phrases is conducted regardless of timing and position within the threaded discussion. Hence, analysis of the postings often occurs in a manner that de-contextualises the discourse throughout the delivery of a subject (Misanchuk & Dueber, 2001). Furthermore, as analysis is limited to a few disparate units of study, an overall picture of the extent to which the online communities formed in individual units are supporting the strategic goals of the university is not formed.

Investment in online technologies and development of learning and teaching strategies is conducted at an enterprise level. However, current methodologies evaluating the development and sustainment of online communities have been focussed at a localised level. This paper proposes a scaleable quantitative approach to identify the degree of learner interactions occurring in specific subject-based forums for further qualitative analysis. It is proposed that the examination of data derived from the wider University context better positions and informs staff undertaking subject-based forums in order to align with University strategic goals.

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ID Code: 2084
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Online learning, Community of practice, collaboration, Discussion forums, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Educational Technology and Computing (130306)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 14 Sep 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:27

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