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Technological Development

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  • Pages: 8
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  • Category: Computers

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Obtaining instruction and the acquisition of training proficiencies through the employment of web-based technology continues to rise (Hein & Irvine, 2006; Markel, 2001; Spencer and Hiltz, 2002), in effect, it has virtually increased people’s knowledge base and boosted young minds’ learning capacities. The contention of this treatise is to say that web-based discussion forums afford students the opportunity to posit queries and responses which consequently encourages and strengthens student-to-student exchanges beyond the classroom setting; hence, active learning is enhanced and nurtured. 

Forums as Educational Tools

Currently, online discussion forums are habitually and consistently utilized as an element of distance education lessons in tertiary education and as a method of fostering exchanges, friendly and intellectual relations between course participants (Spatariu, Hartley & Bendixen, 2004 ). In essence, discussion forums create an environment analogous to the face-to-face classroom setting where knowledge can be significantly and analytically conceptualized and assembled, corroborated and eventually disseminated to everyone who’s interested or whose interest might be stimulated (Knauka & Anderson, 1998).

The internet’s growing fame and attractiveness and the recognition of its capacity to make available clear and comprehensible communication between various policies have “reduced to bare bones” what are supposed to be complex learning opportunities to distantly situated learners. Today, the swift development of distance education in the postsecondary environment is well recognized and widely acknowledged (Spatariu, Hartley & Bendixen, 2004; Green, 2000). Likewise, the mounting development and reliability of learning management systems, the heightened complexity and refinement of communication devices within these structures have directed a sensitivity and awareness for its facility to replicate the varied teaching methods made available in face-to-face instruction by academic and vocational training practitioners (Kang, 1988; Rice, 1989).

Virtual Communities and the Youth

Virtual convergences have recently been stirring up interest both in literature and research. These so-called “virtual kinships” are exemplified by its members’ meetings and interfaces mostly through the use of computer-mediated-communication or CMC. It is significant to note how these communities are situated and have survived at the  It is important to see how virtual communities are located at the periphery between formal organizations and social groups that are existing notwithstanding the dearth or nonexistence of  a systematic and institutional authority.

Basically, divergent versions or analysis abound about how people behave within virtual communities. On one hand, they are known to carry out everything that people perform in real life. Conversely, it has been asserted that virtual communities will most probably transform people’s experience and perceptions of the real world. It would seem that people who participate in these online convergences “abandon” their corporeal bodies behind and “wander” off into these virtual interfacing clusters. Literature has it that virtual communities are depicted by four viral qualities: 1) most of its members will never meet face to face, nonetheless, almost all of the members hold in their psyche a “concrete image” of their communities; 2) these communities are hypothetically independent and free from “outsiders” intrusions and nosiness; 3) virtual communities and its members appear to have with them a concept of parallel solidarity, though most of these communities are lopsided and its members take advantage of each other; and 4) these communities are said to be restricted that even the bigger ones have boundaries with other communities (Slevin, 2002).


Discussion forums have been viewed as an avenue that affords students to consider various perceptions and standpoints which assist to nurture fresh and significant meaning constructions (Heller & Kearsley, 1996; Ruberg et al., 1996). Likewise, they motivate student attainment of erudition and mutual problem-solving skills (Becker, 1992). They stimulate participants to “articulate” their thoughts into writing in a manner that others can comprehend, thereby fostering self-reflection, intelligent and compassionate dialogue with others (Valacich, Dennis and Connolly, 1994). Essentially, discussion forums potentially expose students to an extensive array of perspectives than face-to-face interaction, therefore, enabling them to develop complex insights on a subject (Prain and Lyons, 2000). What is extremely rewarding to know is that students who join in these forums have fun at the same time have become more analytical and insightful in the process.

As noted by Palloff and Pratt (2001), even the quiet ones who seldom open their mouths to express themselves inside the classrooms were now more willing to air their opinions and sentiments through the online forums and this is due to the fact that  these students feel emancipated in the ‘faceless’ online classroom. These young people also felt that online forums enable her to spell out and elucidate their point of views or if they have been misconstrued and that there is no need for them to be weighted down by the disapproval and denigration of others. As it is, this has been a problem in the traditional classroom context.

Learning Maximization

Membership, involvement and partaking in online discussion forums offer people, most especially students, opportunities for conscientiousness and dynamic learning (Hopperton, 1998). This is not an environment for a small number of “geared up” learners responding to a lecturer while the rest of the class sits back and listen either intently or “inattentively.” Participation in these virtual convergences necessitates that students become dynamically engrossed and passionately engaged with the course content and through the animated exchange with peers, parley and settle the meanings or significance of the content. As it is, knowledge and erudition are constructed through the shared experiences that every contributor brings to the multi-faceted discussions. For instance, the case of online web courses on teaching present more profound angles and points of view and opportunities to learn since most of the participants are also teachers from school districts and those from other states. This is not in any way a tapering of outlooks and standpoints but an expansion and augmentation of these teachers’ knowledge base as experiences are intelligently shared and contrasted to relative to teaching issues.

Discussion forums had become a cognitive tool and not just a communication (Jonassen, 1998).  Drawing upon what has been initiated by Rumelhart and Norman (1978), Jonassen characterized generative processing as, “deeper information processing results from activating appropriate mental models, using them to interpret new information, assimilating new information back into those models, reorganizing the models in light of the newly interpreted information, and then using those newly aggrandized models to explain, interpret, or infer new knowledge” (Jonassen, 1998, p.3).

With the use of discussion forums in this web-based educational scenario, all of Vygotsky’s instructional models of learning that entail colleague exchanges and shared communication and the employment of language as a tool for intellectual enhancement all have the potential of being acted out (Rumelhart and Norman, 1978).

A vital point that must be taken into consideration is the fact that through these virtual dialogues, students primarily reflect and articulate their own experiences, their prejudices and its corresponding analyses, their discernment of certain issues and air them out, whether eloquently or blandly, and expecting responses from member participants. Subsequently, those receiving responses examine and translate the views obtained and painstakingly compare these with their own sentiments and judgments. As a consequence, the entire activity steers the way for profound contemplation and intelligent deliberation leading to the illumination of different knowledge perspectives. As such, the learning drawn from these processes is not merely a “muffled reverberation” of an instructor’s talk or a confounding elucidation of a specific reading; rather, it is an unassailable and clarified awareness and discernment of knowledge. Here, the learning is a lot more insightful and permanent as students “filter and process” their own pronouncements, value-systems and judgments (Pallof and Pratt, 2001).


The adaptability and versatility that e-learning affords and the heightened development and reliability of e-learning management systems have paved the way for a rapid growth in the acceptance and recognition of e-learning as an approach of conveying or handing over  educational and vocational training to everyone. The employment of computer-mediated communication (CMC) devices, specifically discussion forums, as a method of supporting and fostering communication and cooperation from e-learning participants has led to a mounting interest by the academic and training community in the pedagogical value of such devices and systems.


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