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The Occurrence and Character of Stories and Storytelling in a Computer Conference

Distance Education Volume 28, Number 1, ISSN 0158-7919


Constructivist views of online interaction often refer to the power of stories and the role of storytelling in the sharing and construction of knowledge, and the creation of learning communities. No empirical evidence of the presence or character of stories in online conferences has been systematically reported, however. This study describes the occurrence of stories in a computer-mediated communication (CMC) transcript generated by experienced online communicators (graduate students), in relation to some of the expectations of a constructivist view of narrative in online interaction, and in contrast with a historical model for describing face-to-face interaction (Bales, 1950). Findings include the observation that, while stories occurred in about one posting in five, students used stories markedly more often than the instructor-moderator; stories tended to be descriptive, rather than analytic, advisory, or hortatory; gender was not an issue in story use; and both story and non-story postings were highly group-supportive, providing information and answers to questions, and avoiding negative social interactions (a finding noted previously in moderated, academic conferences). (Contains 4 tables.)


Fahy, P.J. (2007). The Occurrence and Character of Stories and Storytelling in a Computer Conference. Distance Education, 28(1), 45-63. Retrieved September 22, 2019 from .

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