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The Joint Negotiation of Ground Rules: Establishing a Shared Collaborative Practice with New Educational Technology

Language and Education Volume 23, Number 1, ISSN 0950-0782


Classroom discourse is structured by socially accepted ways in which knowledge is presented and by established procedures for carrying out educational activities. However, the underlying linguistic and social ground rules are usually implicit, for students as well as for teachers. The implicitness of these ground rules has been attributed to students' failure to successfully participate in educational discourse. In this article, I describe a research project in which primary students jointly negotiated ground rules for working together in an online discussion forum. The aims of the study were to examine (1) how collaborative practices were created in interaction, and (2) how participants made visible to each other what counted as appropriate collaborative discourse. The findings indicate that there are many implicit ground rules in place when a new mode of communication is introduced in the classroom. Moreover, students and teachers do not always share the same (implicit) understanding about what is and is not an appropriate communicative action in new learning environments. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from the data is that when introducing new communication technology in classrooms a new educational genre of communicating needs to be defined and underlying ground rules need to be re-established within the particular educational context. (Contains 1 figure.)


Staarman, J.K. (2009). The Joint Negotiation of Ground Rules: Establishing a Shared Collaborative Practice with New Educational Technology. Language and Education, 23(1), 79-95. Retrieved April 4, 2020 from .

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