The effects of trained moderation in online asynchronous distance learning
David Mark Winograd, Arizona State University, United States
Arizona State University . Awarded
Online computer conferences used to assist distance learning courses often fail because the moderator—usually the instructor responsible for the conference—is not properly trained in techniques that build a community of learners. It has often been assumed that the skills required to create a vibrant classroom discussion translated easily to an online forum. This has been rarely the case.
This study utilized the qualitative methods of grounded theory and narrative research to explore how a moderator, after undergoing training, would affect students in one of three segregated computer conferences supporting an online course. The training was based on both the academic literature on educational computer conference moderation and situational examples taken from the experiences of online moderators. The students' experiences with the trained moderator were compared with those students in the other two computer conferences without a trained moderator. The data analyzed were comprised of the messages collected from the three computer conferences, selected interviews, extensive journals written by the researcher, and an online survey.
The study also considered the problems and pressures stemming from unclear policies for constructing an online course in an environment of overlapping departmental mandates. These mandates resulted in more emphasis being given to putting courses online than the choice of the most appropriate pedagogy.
The results indicated that a trained moderator had a positive effect on computer conferences as a community of support and warmth was built; while another group, without such a moderator, constructed a community based on group dissent. No community of any sort was found in the third group.
Winograd, D.M. The effects of trained moderation in online asynchronous distance learning. Ph.D. thesis, Arizona State University.
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