Visualisation of Interactions in Online Collaborative Learning Environments
Jyothi, Sujana (2011) Visualisation of Interactions in Online Collaborative Learning Environments. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Much research in recent years has focused on the introduction of ‘Virtual Learning Environments’ (VLE’s) to universities, documenting practice and sharing experience. Communicative tools are the means by which VLE’s have the potential to transform learning with computers from being passive and transmissive in nature, to being active and constructivist. Attention has been directed towards the importance of online dialogue as a defining feature of the VLE. However, practical methods of reviewing and analysing online communication to encode and trace cycles of real dialogue (and learning) have proved somewhat elusive. Qualitative methods are under-used for VLE discussions, since they demand new sets of research skills for those unfamiliar with those methods. Additionally, it can be time-intensive to learn them. This thesis aims to build an improved and simple-to-use analytical tool for Moodle that will aid and support teachers and administrators to understand and analyse interaction patterns and knowledge construction of the participants involved in ongoing online interactions. After reviewing the strengths and shortcomings of the existing visualisation models, a new visualisation tool called the Virtual Interaction Mapping System (VIMS) is proposed which is based on a framework proposed by Schrire (2004) to graphically represent social presence and manage the online communication patterns of the learners using Moodle. VIMS produces multiple possible views of interaction data so that it can be evaluated from many perspectives; it can be used to represent interaction data both qualitatively and quantitatively. The units of analysis can be represented graphically and numerically for more extensive evaluation. Specifically, these indicators are communication type, participative level, meaningful content of discussion, presence of lurkers, presence of moderators, and performance of participants individually and as a group. It thus enables assessment of the triangular relationship between conversationcontent, online participation and learning
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