Hallå! Jag känner mig ensam här! En studie om studieovana studenters interaktion på ett webbaserat diskussionsforum
Sammanfattning: The Internet offers a variety of ways to acquire knowledge. Universities all over the world have embraced the Internet's potential for web-based learning. This development requires new competences for students and teachers. Web-based distance education is flexible and independent of time and place and therefore increases the accessibility for students who may be located outside the university. Distance students have also the possibility to choose the time best suited for their studies. Today's distance education usually includes a web-based learning management system with a discussion forum as a tool for communication and interaction. This study focuses on the discussion forum as a tool for learning in web-based distance education and is based on a group of students with no previous experience in academic studies. The thesis describes, analyzes and explains how students participated in the discussion forum during a university course which lasted for 20 weeks. In addition, the study highlights important aspects that affect students' learning outcomes. Earlier research related to the thesis is presented by Lionarakis’ model for the various disciplines involved in distance education research field. The empirical data is gathered by studying how the students acted and participated in the discussion forum, and by analyzing the content of their postings in the forum.The results of the empirical study show that students' participation varied over time and that they were most active at the beginning of the course. During the course the content of the postings changed. The postings that were not directly related to the task decreased in number, while the task-related postings were constant. The study also shows that the students who completed the course with a maximum number of credits were the most active in starting discussions and that their participation in the discussion forum were consistently high throughout the course. Analysis and interpretation of the study’s results show that the students’ attitude towards learning affects how they participate in a discussion forum, and thus to what extent the discussion forum will contribute to students learning. Moreover, not only the importance of a consistently high participation has a positive impact on learning and study results, but also the content of the students’ postings. Finally, the study emphasizes the teacher's essential role as a guide and a facilitator of students’ web-based learning.
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