Coding discussions in forums can be such a laborious process and I find myself going around in circles. Was that 'thank you Fred' evidence of teaching presence, facilitating discourse, or just a friendly reply to a fellow participant? Was that passing comment about the 'value of blogs for children' an indication of meta-cognition or a subjective statement?
As I traverse the dialogue in a forum I realise that I am seeing only the tip of the iceberg and will never really know what went on behind the scenes, in people heads.
One thing I can say for sure is that tutors, teachers, facilitators of online learning really need to encourage participants to express themselves fully in a forum and not just make passing remarks. Everyone needs a voice in their heads saying 'why do you say that?', 'what makes you come to that conclusion?', 'please explain your thinking!'. Otherwise other participants will never really understand the basis for your assertions and therefore, one could argue, critical thinking will not take place.Moreover, researchers will have a hard time coding the dialogue!
About my research
My research was set in the context of the European Commission’s eTwinning initiative and it looked specifically at the use of eTwinning Learning Events (non-formal learning). It examined how the community influences the development of teachers’ competence in online collaboration and discourse, and it considered the contribution of social aspects and online moderation.
I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Julie-Ann Sime from Lancaster University, and to my eTwinning soulmate, Tiina Sarisalmi, for their invaluable support. And to my examiners, Prof. Marilyn Leask from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Don Passey from the University of Lancaster, for their valuable advice.