Dr. Leonard Shedletsky, Professor of Communication, recently published a book entitled Cases on Online Discussion and Interaction: Experiences and Outcomes. The book explores the issues surrounding discussion and communication in online education.
"Online college courses are an interesting challenge when it comes to discussion," says Shedletsky. "Compared to everyday face-to-face talking to one another, online discussion changes the time we have to take in and to produce comments, our reception of nonverbal cues, our sense of being with others, our turn-taking routines and the very structure of discourse. We have much to learn about how discussion works in an online setting."
At the same time, Dr. Shedletsky has also noticed that many students who are quiet in the classroom tend to participate more fully in online discussions. As online education becomes more and more prevalent, instructors and students alike will need to adjust their approaches to-- and expectations from-- communicating in the virtual classroom.
We recommend Dr. Shedletsky's book to any faculty or students doing research on the topic of discussion in online education. The Glickman Family Library in Portland has an online version of the book on electronic reserve: Cases on Online Discussion and Interaction: Experiences and Outcomes.