Towards the refinement of forum and asynchronous online discussion in educational contexts worldwide: Trends and investigative approaches within a dominant research paradigm

Michael Loncar, Neil E. Barrett, Gi Zen Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The growth of asynchronous online discussion (AOD) in primary, secondary, undergraduate, and post-graduate contexts and courses has resulted in a growing body of literature that provides valuable insights into the issues surrounding the use of online writing, online discussion, and distance and blended learning in formal education worldwide. This phenomenological critical literature review provides an overview of research focused on forum use and AOD published from 2008 to 2012. Papers were chosen based on a selection process suggested by Wu et al. (2012), where nine of the most influential e-learning education and educational review journals were searched according to year, 2008-2012, and the following keywords: forum, threaded discussion, and threaded chat. Three teachers/educational researchers, each with at least five years of experience using forum and AOD in university contexts, further filtered the corpus through following a detailed inclusion/exclusion procedure, which resulted in a refined corpus of 43 journal papers. Quantitative analyses of results reveal most AOD research in educational contexts from 2008 to 2012 was carried out through or on Learning Management Systems (LMS) platforms in university settings, within computer and education classes, with blended learning dominating distance learning contexts. Most research settings were based in Asia and Europe, while the three countries with the most AOD publications were Singapore, Taiwan, and the U.S. In addition, the journals dominating the field were Computers & Education, followed by Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, and Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. The refined corpus was also analysed qualitatively via phenomenological method (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009), in order to identify and contextualize meaningful statements and themes. Discussion focuses on the existence of a dominant research paradigm that we divide into four investigative impulses and discuss: argumentative, comparative, relational, and analytical. Specific representative examples of each investigative impulse are thoroughly discussed and critiqued, and as a result, should be of significant value to all stakeholders, including researchers, instructors, and students, involved in forum and AOD use in educational contexts globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
JournalComputers and Education
Volume73
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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