Introducing synchronous e-discussions in co-located classrooms: A study on the experiences of 'active' and 'silent' secondary school students

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Even though the advantages of online discussions over face-to-face discussion formats have been extensively discussed and investigated, the blending of synchronous online discussion tools in co-located classroom settings has been considered with far less intensity. In this paper, we report on secondary school students’ experiences and preferences concerning two different discussion formats for critical debate in co-located classroom settings: face-to-face and synchronous, computer-mediated communication (CMC). Data was collected with the help of self-report questionnaires (N = 70) and structured interviews (N = 4). A differentiation was made between students that define themselves as active participants in face-to-face classroom discussions and those who usually remain silent in these settings. The findings highlight several potential advantages of the computer-mediated discussion format, especially in terms of the social-interactive and managerial aspects of classroom discussions. Comparisons between the two groups show that ‘silent’ students welcome the introduction of CMC with enthusiasm, whereas ‘active’ students do not show a clear preference. Practical implications as well as new directions for further research are discussed.

Last updated on 03/25/2015