Design of a Synchronous CMC System Supporting Persistent Discussion in Online Learning Communities

J. Touzet (Canada)


synchronous communication, chat, online distanceeducation


This paper presents a design for a novel unified web based system to support persistence of text-based synchronous discussion within the context of a traditional asynchronous learning network (ALN) for the purpose of sustaining online learning communities outside the traditional classroom setting. The study builds on the results of previous studies into synchronous computer mediated communication (CMC) to outline a framework to meet the needs of distance learners as determined through a rapid contextual design protocol. A group of distance graduate students in the field of education participated in the design process through a survey mechanism and evaluation of a lightweight prototype. The envisioned system will provide synchronous facilities to support persistent, thematic discussion spaces, automated archiving, search and tagging functionality, and guidelines and scaffolds for effective integration into existing ALN environments. Early results indicate support for the approach, especially with digital natives and their associated digital immigrant educators.

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