They used e-moderators - ‘teachers who design, facilitate and direct the cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes’ (Garrison and Anderson, 2003, p. 49) - to continuously facilitate a discussion between participants and to engender a feeling of community.
They conclude, inter alia, that:
- The creation of a community of learners does not happen automatically or suddenly but rather as a result of specific actions of all participants. It took around 4 to 5 weeks for the community to develop and become self-sustaining
- The use of e-moderators was essential for the community creation and evolution. They used a mixture of low and high intervention styles, at various points, as appropriate to the stage of evolution of the community and its degree of autonomy.
- The data collected helped the instructors understand when the community took off and when intervention was necessary. Reports on group activity were made available to everyone in the community to help with self-regulation - however, the research was largely inconclusive as to whether this aspect was positive
Garrison, D. R. & Anderson, T. (2003) E-learning in the 21st century: a framework for research and practice (London, Routledge).
Hlapanis, G. & Dimitracopoulou, A. (2007) 'The School-Teacher's Learning Community: matters of communication analysis'. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 16 (2), pp.133 - 151