Exploring the Impact of Discussion Interfaces on Diversified Interconnectivity in Online Learning Communities

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Journal of Educational Technology Development & Exchange








Asynchronous online discussions are widely recognized as potent pedagogical practices for actively involving learners in the process of constructing knowledge and cultivating a thriving learning community. This study examined how the types of online discussion threads (i.e., student-based vs. topic-based) moderate diverse of social interconnection in discussions and how it changes over time. An upward trajectory in the diversification of interconnectivity was discerned. In spite of the shift from student-based to topic-based, students continue valuing the power of diversified interconnecting with their classmates. The significant drop, but transitory, from Week 3 to 4 can be explained by the switch to another discussion type. Both the student-based and topic-based threads were observed to facilitate comparable levels of diverse connectivity. However, they accentuated subtle attributes within the learning communities. Instead of deciding upon any asynchronous online discussion tools given by institution’s LMS, instructors should critically assess different discussion thread interfaces and integrate a relevant one to create and facilitate their ideal and effective, yet diverse learning community. Future research should explore diverse interconnectivity traits and extend the timeframe beyond three weeks to observe the enduring impacts on learning community development.


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Original Publication Citation

Harati, H., Ono, E., Ingram, J. K., Ragab Nasr, N., Yen, C.-J., & Tu, C.-H. (2023). Exploring the impact of discussion interfaces on diversified interconnectivity in online learning communities. Journal of Educational Technology Development & Exchange, 16(2), 40-65. https://doi.org/10.18785/jetde.1602.03