Personal Learning in Online Discussions
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The establishment of online discussion forums and their application to higher education have encouraged the use of online discussion within tertiary teaching. Recent studies related to online discussions have provided different ways of understanding the effect of online discussions on teaching and learning. This study investigates how personal learning is facilitated through various ways of engagement in an online discussion environment. The rationale behind this effort has been the concern that online discussions may be being used only because of the availability and technological opportunities the method provides. Personal learning is generally viewed in the literature as an individual's cognitive and knowledge construction and endeavour to make meaning through involvement and interaction in a community and context. There are, however, great variations in the way individuals engaged in their own learning within a community of learners. Motivation and strategies are also seen as factors that influence to individual level of engagement in online discussions. The findings reveal different types of interactions and highlight different levels of individual participation and engagement in the online discussions. From the findings, the Types of Online Interaction Model is developed to show the different roles that individual might adopt in the online discussion environment. The adopted roles are the individual approaches and actions that contribute to personal learning during the online discussion. The roles are flexible and individuals are likely to move from one role to another when there are reasons to do so. This study also shows the importance of the interactions that enable learning within the community. Two case studies discussed in this thesis illustrate the individual strategies of a provocateur and an eventual participant, which show how different ways of engaging in an online discussion community of learners contribute to individual learning.