Discussion structure: Does it influence student participation and learning through online interactions with block mode students?

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Fazeela Ibrahim

Abstract

Interaction in online learning is becoming quite common in higher education. Online communication tools are thought to promote student-centred learning and encourage wider student participation as well as provide an important learning opportunity for students. This paper presents a study based on a survey of seventeen students regarding perceptions on the usefulness of online communication, analysed through an interactive discussion structure with selected synchronous and asynchronous communication tools. The article considers student feedback on the new interactive discussion structure provided to them and compares the level of participation between the old structure and the new structure. The results show that there was a significant increase in the level of participation in the new structure. However, it also indicates that simply providing an interactive discussion structure does not mean that it will be used effectively. Several other factors were related to actual participation and perceived usefulness of the structure.

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