Case Studies on Peer Facilitation: How to Sustain Participants’ Online Discussion?
Up to this point, our focus has been on studies that examined the possible ways to increase student contribution in peer facilitated online discussion environments. However, another question that should also be asked is what makes an online discussion sustainable. The social constructivist learning perspective suggests that individuals learn by exchanging ideas or opinions with one another. For this to take place, sustained online discussion, typically characterized by long threads, should ideally be the norm because it typically takes many exchanges of postings for students to share viewpoints, explore different perspectives, negotiate issues, and create mutual understandings. This chapter presents three studies that examined how threads grow. The first study examined thread development patterns, while the other two studies examined, in greater detail, the role of questions as well as other facilitation techniques that could foster the continuity of threaded discussion. We discuss six major lessons learned from these three studies.
KeywordsAsynchronous online discussion Peer facilitation Sustainability Continuity Thread development Thread growth Questions Case studies Social constructivism Facilitation techniques Student facilitation Thread pattern
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