Confronting the Pedagogical Challenges of Online Asynchronous Discussion Groups

By Beth Edmondson.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper argues that online asynchronous discussion groups suffer from inherent pedagogical limitations, in spite of their abilities to provide sites for content focussed discussion and support for students. Discussion groups cannot overcome their structural limitations in constructing question and answer trees because they create end of learning cycle outputs rather than facilitating learning processes. In distance education, online discussion groups suffer an additional pedagogical weakness by constructing student-teacher discussions as semi-public discussions. Their mediated environment contributes implicit ‘veils of uncertainty’ that limit meaningful connectedness between learners and teachers. Developing an awareness of these problems can assist teachers and designers in identifying appropriate supports to student learning.

Keywords: Pedagogy, Learning Processes, Learning Cycle, Discussion Groups

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 12, pp.101-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 485.380KB).

Dr. Beth Edmondson

Lecturer, History/Politics, School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences, Monash University Gippsland Campus, Churchill, Victoria, Australia

I teach in a variety of areas, including International Relations, Australian Politics and Policy Studies and Gender Studies. I have utilised a variety of online learning options in working with off campus students in my own subjects and previously coordinated a major university initiative in designing and developing interactive e-learning materials in a diverse range of Arts disciplines, including Chinese and Japanese languages and content based social science subjects. I remain interested in the importance of design, opportunities for flexible active student centred learning and pedagogical application in e-learning.


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