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Is the Unfolding of the Group Discussion Off-Pattern? Improving Coordination Support in Educational Forums Using Mobile Devices

Gerosa, M.A.; Filippo, D.; Pimentel, M.; Fuks, H.; Lucena, C.J.P. Is the Unfolding of the Group Discussion Off-Pattern? Improving Coordination Support in Educational Forums Using Mobile Devices. Computers and Education , Volume 54(2), pp. 528-544. Elsevier: 2010. ISSN 0360-1315. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2009.09.004.

Temas: CSCL, Sistemas de Comunicação, Aprendizagem Colaborativa, Desenvolvimento de Sistemas, Web, Computação Móvel, Pesquisa-Ação, Entrevista

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Abstract: A forum is a valuable tool to foster reflection in an in-depth discussion; however, it forces the course mediator to continually pay close attention in order to coordinate learners? activities. Moreover, monitoring a forum is time consuming given that it is impossible to know in advance when new messages are going to be posted. Additionally, a forum may be inactive for a long period and suddenly receive a burst of messages forcing forum mediators to frequently log on in order to know how the discussion is unfolding to intervene whenever it is necessary. Mediators also need to deal with a large amount of messages to identify off-pattern situations. This work presents a piece of action research that investigates how to improve coordination support in a forum using mobile devices for mitigating mediator?s difficulties in following the status of a forum. Based on summarized information extracted from message meta-data, mediators consult visual information summaries on PDAs and receive textual notifications in their mobile phone. This investigation revealed that mediators used the mobile-based coordination support to keep informed on what is taking place within the forum without the need to log on their desktop computer.