CiteWeb id: 20160000094

CiteWeb score: 433

Computer-mediated discussion forums (such as newsgroups or those in instructional management software environments) are becoming common in higher education. Such forums are interesting because they are not only one ofthe easiest technologies to add to a class but may also provide an important learning opportunity for students. However, simply making a discussion forum available does not mean that it will be used effectively to enable learning. In this paper, we explore the idea that specific features of a discussion forum may increase the likelihood of effective discussions taking place within the forum. We define effective discussions as those that are sustained and are focused on topics related to class learning goals. We then describe the specifications for an electronic discussion forum-a computer-mediated anchored discussion forum-that we propose makes sustained on-topic discussion more likely. We report on the results of two studies that support this proposal. We end by exploring implications for research into computer-supported discussion tools for learning and their design.