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ERIC Number: ED451972
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Jun
Pages: 9
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Electronic Learning Communities? Factors That Enhance and Inhibit Learning within Email Discussion Groups.
Owen, Christine; Pollard, Jennifer; Kilpatrick, Sue; Rumley, Diane
A study examined the characteristics of the learning process when it is facilitated by computer-mediated communication in nonformal learning contexts. In this paper, learning is defined as the transformation of experience through reflection, conceptualization, and action. Such experiential learning often occurs in dialogue with others. "Learning communities" are communities of practice--problem-solving networks that enhance the learning process through aspects of social capital: shared language, shared experiences, self-development, mutual trust, and identification with the community. Over a 1-month period, data from seven e-mail discussion groups in Australia were collected and analyzed. Groups included sheep and beef grazers in remote locations; professional development groups in educational administration, human resource development, and women's health; and two organizations using email to enhance work practice. The asynchronous, virtual environment differed considerably from that of face-to-face interactions, with the virtual environment allowing for multiple discussion topics and varying levels of participation, and demanding different facilitator skills. Challenge was very prevalent in three groups, but the outcomes were quite different, ranging from respect, support, and reflective discussion to personal attacks and miscommunication. The facilitator or moderator has an important role in maintaining a respectful dialogue that enhances understanding and learning. (SV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia