Networks Evolving Around Contributions (NEACs) may yield information about how conversations evolve and die online. They can be analysed to determine crucial points in conversations or identify useful ways of interacting. This is of importance because often online discussions start up, contain a few friendly comments, and then die.
I can demonstrate this by looking at the recent response on this site to an article, "Beyond Clickometry". The diagram below shows the NEAC that developed when MdR referred to an article and then posted a link to that article.
MdR's contribution served as a conversation starter, and then he did not contribute again. Nevertheless, he can be considered the primary contributor. Although TH made a comment before the link to the article was posted, he did not contribute further. The network that then evolved contained comments by DA, SD, and the original author of the article, AD.
Most of the contributions made were simply comments made by one of these three on the contribution of another. Three "sub-conversations" developed. One involving SD and DA could be seen either as the contributors becoming side-tracked, or it could be seen as much more relevant than that, with a vivid metaphor emerging around the way that a group needs to first focus on creating fertile ground from which new knowledge may emerge.
The second "sub-conversation" contained input from all three contributors, and is therefore seen as more "busy" or interactive. The third conversation involved SD and AD clarifying matters and exchanging details.
My question relates to how this NEAC helps us understand online communication. Were there missed opportunities for the conversations to have become deeper and more meaningful? The article itself was rich with information which I feel had the potential to be used in the construction of new knowledge about LA.
Would there have been more meaningful activity if more people were attracted to the site as a whole? If the conversation was to include just the three secondary contributors, what could they have done to ensure that their interaction was as meaningful as it could be. One does not always get the opportunity to communicate directly with the author of an article. Such opportunities can surely be better utilised.
From a technical point of view, the NEAC as displayed on my computer was broken up in the sense that comments did not always appear in date order or logical order. Has this got to do with my settings, or the way that contributors used their options when replying or contributing?
It's great that we have such interesting and knowledgeable people involved in this discussion forum already. I'm keen to hear if anyone has ideas of how we can involve more people in the conversations here. Certain focusing on quality information is important, I think.
A relevant article was published in this month's JOLT. It's the first article in that list and is titled "Impact of Instructor Intervention on the Quality and Frequency of Student Discussion Posts in a Blended Classroom". The study found that when instructors led with structured forum postings, the quality of subsequent student posts was not affected, but the number of responses was reduced. The setting of that paper is quite different to this forum and the paper does list a number of contradictory results in other papers, but it does show that peoples' desires to respond can be affected by the presence of an authority figure (if you can call it that).
It's interesting to see me as the centre of anything.
simply put Michael, the links across the Moots and conferences with this forum calls for some triangulated action.
Moodle.org research forum....is where university researchers/users might wish to propose ideas here for paper/poster/etc at such events and in the interim...build their work-in- progress, here, with you and others...........those others not at the centre- also know their onions
Merry xmas Michael,
As many studies have done, this one measured instructor intervention in only a quantitative way. As I understand, in order to "remain objective" the contributions where kept standardised and delivered at a particular time in the week. As such they did not form part of the flow of the interaction, and did not address students individually. Qualitative study may identify ways that acknowledging individual input while encouraging contributors to ellaborate or expand their ideas may contribute to a growth-orientation. Complementing specific behaviours may increase the likelihood of those behaviours in future. Perhaps brief discussion or a survey after the study would have helped researchers understand the students' experience better.
Reducing input to quantitative measures loses much of the data. As the authors themselves describe, the group may have posted fewer comments, but those comments may have been of a higher quality in some way not measured by the 3-point scale used. The researchers took some time to follow guidelines of previous authors, for example to give the group time to build relationships, but do not comment of the nature of the relationships developed or demonstrated during discussion.
Better relationships and feeling "safe" enough to give one's opinion may be more important than instructor's input. It should not be assumed that, being familiar with social media etc,, people feel safe online. I have read studies where participants have withdrawn after the group disagreed with a statement they had made. People should be assisted to be resilient and see the sharing and critical analysis of ideas in a safe light. Even when someone else makes fun of one's name, it is possibile to continue ahead.