Monday, June 4, 2007

What in the World is Lurking?

Students who read threaded discussion responses without participating are known as ‘lurkers.” Lurkers review online communication without contributing in some way to the discussion. Lurking is a common practice on the Internet. Lurking is not necessarily a bad thing. Research being done at the UT System TeleCampus is attempting to identify characteristics of lurkers and apply these findings to the educational environment. Although the research is preliminary at best, one key finding is that learning styles and personality characteristics appear to be powerful influences in the amount of interaction noted in online courses. Although interaction is an important part of the online course, there may be merit to the realization that all students will not prefer to interact in the same way. Allowing alternative interactions may encourage students who prefer to interact in different ways to gain greater satisfaction from online coursework.

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