Facilitating online interaction

3 Sep

Frustrated_computer_userHere we are, an online community that is inherently motivated to share and collaborate. I’m happily jumping from one blog to another reading about different experiences. But, as I was drawn to the content and spontaneously wanted to interact with it and leave a comment, my efforts were thwarted by filling out a spam form, or not finding a comment box to begin with. Much to my chagrin, I kept my thoughts to myself and moved on.

This got me thinking about “regular” students in an online environment, students who are not motivated to interact verbally or post comments in a new environment. For those, the instructors have to invest a lot time designing of the online environment, removing obstacles, changing their writing style (maybe?), and making the course more inviting.

As for me, the more steps I have to take in order to participate in a discussion, the more I will be distracted and probably end up doing something else … (sorry that’s the truth!).

Have you had similar experiences?


6 Responses to “Facilitating online interaction”

  1. Todd Conaway September 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I think you are addressing the “digital literacy” of learners/people today. The literacy they have today will be improved tomorrow. They/we will become more accustomed to the environment and the details of using it. And while it may be more complex than writing on a piece of paper, it (the web) affords some opportunities paper does not.

    I agree with the idea of a “regular” student. But I think that those regulars are changing and developing more ability to navigate the digital landscape they find themselves in. My daughter, at 13, has a very different understanding of the internet than do the teachers I work with. I try to explain it here: http://wp.me/p1fXzz-V

    More steps, I agree. I suppose it depends on the users needs and wants. I think the trick is to somehow get students to want to participate and see the value of whatever they are doing. That is usually not part of the lesson, syllabus, or course objectives in many academic environments. I have been thwarted too by teachers who create an atmosphere in a room that says, “Don’t ask questions while I am talking.” I have been thwarted when I wanted to participate in a discussion that was cut short by a teacher who said, “We will have to talk about this later. We have to move on.”

    All kinds of ways to be thwarted in any space.

  2. Sandra September 4, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    I am new at using blogs and have become quite cynical of the antispam protecting keywords. On setting up my own blog it took me a couple of attempts to decipher the words and on leaving a comment on another blog it took 5 attempts – all because I didn’t realise the first letter was actually the number 1. Normally I would give up adding comments in these cases as just too hard. I know the reason for the antispam system, but does it have to be so difficult? I think the average user would just give up adding comments as too hard if they don’t get the antispam word first time. Who wants to type a reply more than once?

  3. Claudia September 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Hey Lana
    Good to see you are here — you bring lots of positive energy to this forum.
    Don’t think you will need much encouragement or cheerleading — but I am here, floating in and out, if you do

  4. Nancy Lewis September 25, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    The conversation definitely flows better with less obstacles in place – the fewer clicks the better. Nowadays we expect the internet to be easily navigable. If we come across a web site or blog where it takes more than a few seconds to accomplish what we came there for, we click away. There’s just too much to do online to waste our time in that way. This is especially true for our young learners, who have probably never had to wait for a dial-up connection to the internet.

    On the other hand, security measures like Captcha exist for a reason. It might just be a matter of getting used to these features and making them an automatic part of one’s internet use.

  5. lanatheonly September 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    I highlight from the abstract: “Respondents used [forums and blogs] to explore and develop their own affordances for learning in
    varied and even surprising and novel ways, sometimes using blogs or forums for particular purposes, but
    sometimes using them almost interchangeably.”


  1. (Parenethical) - Distributed Conversations - September 11, 2011

    […] posts last week by Lana and Eduardo got me thinking about the way different online spaces impact student […]

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