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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Classroom Instruction v. Online Discussion Forums

Scottish law professor Paul Maharg has written an
interesting post on the Zeugma blog (5/24/2006)
about the differences between the traditional modality
of face-to-face interaction with faculty in a classroom
setting and the more transactional, student initiated experience
of the online discussion forum.

Maharg posits that, in classroom interaction
(based on the "initiation-response-follow up" (IRF)
model), "faculty rarely ask what we might regard
as genuine questions that seek knowledge – what
they are trying to do is to start dialogue or test
student knowledge." He compares this with
the online discussion environment where
"almost none [of students' questions] are initiated by
[faculty] : students raise the issues. The agenda belongs
to them. The questions are genuine: they are seeking
knowledge that they cannot obtain elsewhere."

A list of references follows the posting.