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Recognising and promoting collaboration in an online asynchronous discussion

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This paper reports on a study involving the identification and measurement of collaboration in an online asynchronous discussion (OAD). A conceptual framework served for the development of a model which conceptualises collaboration on a continuum of processes that move from social presence to production of an artefact. From this model, a preliminary instrument with six processes was developed. Through application of the instrument to an OAD, the instrument was further developed with indicators added for each process. Use of the instrument to analyse an OAD showed that it is effective for gaining insight into collaborative processes in which discussants in an OAD do or do not engage. Use of the instrument in other contexts would test and potentially strengthen its reliability and provide further insight into the collaborative processes in which individuals engage in OADs. Analysis of an OAD using the instrument revealed that participants engaged primarily in processes related to social presence and articulating individual perspectives, and did not reach a stage of sharing goals and producing shared artefacts. The results suggest that the higher-level processes related to collaboration in an OAD may need to be more explicitly and effectively promoted in order to counteract a tendency on the part of participants to remain at the level of individual rather than group or collaborative effort.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2004

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