Learning Online Facilitation Online
Executive Officer e-Learn
Intellectual Property Unit
Southbank Institute of TAFE
Online learning is a new paradigm that requires a different mindset for instructional designers, researchers, teachers and learners. The use of computer mediated conferencing builds knowledge through teachers and learners being actively engaged in dialogue and sharing of knowledge. This changes the competencies teachers require and places a greater emphasis on their facilitation skills. It also changes the role of the learner who can participate as much or as little as they wish, thus taking more responsibility for their learning. The teacher also becomes a learner.
Successful online learning depends on the skills of the teacher and the communication behaviour and actions of all members of the collaborative learning community. The teacher requires organisational, intellectual and social facilitation skills. Their intellectual role is, of course, most important. However, the emphasis on organisational facilitation identified by Paulsen (1995), suggests today’s online teachers need to learn special facilitation skills that provoke intelligent responses and create group harmony.
Through a range of learning experiences teachers need to develop their own philosophical approach to online learning.
This paper is about my experience as an online learner in a course that taught me how to move out of the middle and facilitate dialogue amongst learners.
The role of teachers and students is changing in the online environment. Teachers are no longer lecturers. As members of collaborative learning communities, teachers share learning with students. Students are no longer recalling information. There is more emphasis on interaction and collaboration between teacher and learner. (Berge 2000)
E-moderators are the new generation of teachers and trainers who work with learners online. Online teachers (e-moderators) need special training if online learning is to be successful and productive. Today’s learners are constructing their own knowledge through exploration and interacting online with their peers and teachers. E-moderator training needs to focus on the new roles of teachers, rather than the use of the technology. (Salmon 2000)
In order to understand these changes better and recognise the challenges faced by students and teachers alike, I enrolled in an online training course called Moving Out of the Middle offered by the Concord Consortium, Massachusetts.
This twelve week scheduled asynchronous netcourse used guided enquiry-based pedagogy and computer-mediated conferencing (CMC). Weekly assignments required me to collaborate online with peer students to build my knowledge. One instructor was responsible overall for the course. Two e‑moderators, who had recently learnt to moderate enquiry, facilitated our online discussions. They were undergoing advanced e-moderator training guided by the same instructor, and interacted with us under the instructor’s watchful eye.
The other students were the highlighted focus for my learning and knowledge building. It was not the instructor or e-moderators. Keeping the teacher’s perspective out of online dialogue is a continuing challenge for most online educators. They are more comfortable as a lecturer providing the answers. This course was a collaborative journey that challenged how we characteristically behaved as students as well as online teachers. We were both students and online teachers in this course. We learnt about online facilitation and we facilitated at least one weekly online discussion individually. This enabled us to explore both roles and experience the challenges and difficulties from both perspectives.
The e-moderator makes students feel welcome and safe. This safety encourages members of the learning community to enter into discussions openly and honestly and to receive feedback that will enhance their learning. They must entice all participants to enter into the discussions regularly. In a healthy online community all participants show concern and support for each other.
E-moderators become peer learners who do not lecture. The messages they post as part of the discussions, must be carefully “crafted” and this takes a lot of precious time. The e‑moderator’s role is to recognise patterns in dialogues and diagnose what a dialogue needs from a pedagogical viewpoint. For example a dialogue may start to become very negative and hence destructive to the learning process. Having recognised this, the e-moderator must leverage the dialogue toward better focus or deeper exploration of content.
This is achieved by implementing a variety of voices along with a set of critical thinking strategies. (Any communication, oral or written employs a voice.) The e-moderator enters into discussions using one of many voices (personas, characters or masks). Generally they should not express their personal opinion but seek to clarify and extend the thinking of other people, depending on the purpose and stage of the collaboration. Moderating a dialogue by combining a voice and a strategy that are not necessarily the e‑moderator’s own, requires concentration and diligence to master. (Collison et al 2000)
E-moderators must deliberately not respond to every comment and they cannot feel responsible for holding up the discussion. They are responsible for maintaining clarity of the discussion’s direction and continually sharpening its focus. They should provide clear instructions on how and where to post messages and give general navigation techniques which will make it easier for participants to move around the virtual learning environment. They are keepers of coherence.
A good e-moderator focuses on both the task and social aspects of learning and on its components and ongoing dynamics. The e-moderator does not work to be the visual or verbal centre of the learner’s learning world, and ensures that any action avoids blocking the adult’s intrinsic motivating needs to feel competent and connected. (Burge, Laroque, Boak 2000)
I was challenged by a course that had a steep learning curve and initially I felt frustrated that the e-moderators or instructor were not stepping in to tell me how to move forward in my thinking. They left me to examine and explore ideas, values and assumptions through collaboration, experimentation and reflection. This instilled a form of independence in me as a learner. I no longer needed the e-moderator to “supply the answers”.
Students who work collaboratively with virtual colleagues should read colleagues’ comments (listen) carefully, consider them and then accept and embed them accurately into their own thinking or reject them. The student must be willing to move beyond his/her own assumptions to explore communication and new strategies for deepening learning. Thoughtful and reflective comments are required to move the dialogue between students forward.
As a student in this course, I had to read postings carefully (listen) and explore them before replying. My initial thoughts were usually very different from my final point of view. I had quiet arguments with myself and during lengthy reflection I tried to write my posts in reply. I had to think deeply and challenge my own assumptions often.
I was able to complete my work anytime, anywhere but within weekly parameters of the twelve-week course. The course was not self-paced. I was expected to work online with other students, complete assignments by the due dates and contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
Prior to commencing the course I received a Learning Support Agreement (LSA) from Concord. This outlined the support Concord staff would provide participants of the netcourse and the responsibilities of participants to the netcourse community. Concord guaranteed a response time for learner questions of between 24 and 48 hours and regular private feedback on my progress. I was expected to devote 5-7 hours weekly to the course. Regular postings to the discussion board were required from all participants. I now recommend the inclusion of LSAs for all online courses.
The expectations for traditional classrooms are clear and can be explained during orientation or at the start of a class. In the online environment, a Learning Support Agreement clarifies the roles and expectations of the learners and the providers. It helps all parties understand what is expected from them. It can include a range of information including how to access the tutor, who to turn to for technology assistance, guaranteed response time, type of learning support, duration of access to content once the course finishes etc. The components could be categorised under pre-course, during course, post-course and technical support. LSAs can be as formal or legal as the provider decides. If something is not included it should be stated clearly in the LSA. (Masie 1999)
The primary method for accessing the instructor and e-moderators was through CMC and email. Threads were set up for technical questions and questions relating to assignments and there were pre‑posted replies to the type of question most frequently asked. Many of the questions I initially posted were actually answered by other participants trying to help me out. There were 23 participants from USA, British Columbia and Australia. One of our e‑moderators lived in Paris. Participants all had an educational background and were working in a variety of positions including instructional web designer, virtual high school teacher, VET practitioner, nurse educator, research assistant, university lecturer, librarian, IT specialist primary and secondary school teacher.
The foundation for this course is a book called Facilitating Online Learning – Effective Strategies for Moderators written by George Collison, Bonnie Elbaum, Sarah Haavind and Robert Tinker. It was mailed to me prior to the commencement date.
Initial weekly emails from my instructor encouraged me to login to the course and familiarise myself with the environment. I was asked to change my password and log back in on Opening Day. My first visit to the live course was exciting and being on the other side of the world meant I was usually the first to officially log in. The instructor had prepared me well. I had access and I was eager to commence and meet the other participants.
At the beginning of each week I received an email from the instructor setting out an overview of the new week’s activities or a comment/reflection on activities of the previous week. I then accessed the check list matrix, which was posted to the Assignments area detailing the assignment activities for that week. I printed this list out and inserted a completion date against each activity as I finished it.
Activities included creating a homepage, reading sections of the set text and online reading assignments. Reflecting on the reading and posting reflections to the discussion board encouraged further focussed discussion with my peers. Set topics were also given for discussion at various stages, the first of these being moderating.
Each week’s activities and discussions were kept in separate threads making it easy to navigate through the course at all times. This was especially useful if I hadn’t logged in for a while and was in catch-up mode. Being in a different time zone was advantageous to me. Our week officially started on a Wednesday morning and finished on the following Tuesday evening. I was always ahead of everyone else. The instructor posted private weekly feedback on each participant’s progress, to our private feedback thread.
I was already familiar with the five-step model that Gilly Salmon from the Open University Business School in the UK built from her action research. It appeared to me that it was exactly the context this course operated in. That context together with the overall instructional design of the Moving Out of the Middle course provided access and motivation, online socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction and responsibility for my own learning. I was exploring my own thinking and knowledge building processes (Biggs 1995).
I felt incredibly pleased to be able to share my references and knowledge on Salmon’s work with my peer learners and the e-moderators, none of whom were previously aware of it.
Figure 1: Model of teaching and learning online through CMC (Salmon 2000, p26)
“Individual access and the ability of participants to use CMC are essential prerequisites for conference participation (stage one, at the base of the flights of steps). Stage two involves individual participants establishing their online identities and then finding others with whom to interact. At stage three, participants give information relevant to the course to each other. Up to and including stage three, a form of co-operation occurs, i.e. support for each person’s goals. At stage four, course-related group discussions occur and the interaction becomes more collaborative. The communication depends on the establishment of common understandings. At stage five, participants look for more benefits from the system to help them achieve personal goals, explore how to integrate CMC into other forms of learning and reflect on the learning processes.”
“Each stage requires participants to master certain technical skills (shown in the bottom left of each step). Each stage calls for different e-moderating skills (shown on the right top of each step). The “interactivity bar” running along the right of the flight of steps, suggests the intensity of interactivity that you can expect between the participants at each stage. At first, at stage one, they interact only with one or two others. After stage two, the numbers of others with whom they interact, and the frequency, gradually increases, although stage five often results in a return to more individual pursuits.” (Salmon 2000, pp.25-26)
One of my earliest assignments was to introduce myself online through the eyes of my pet i.e. using the “voice” of my cat. I gained a brief insight into what was to become an intriguing part of this course.
“The use of ‘voice’ in the context of facilitating online goal-directed dialogue differs significantly from the ‘voice’ of narrative or expository text or other literary forms of communication.” (Collison et al. 2000, p104)
The voice of traditional authors expresses his or her personal perspective or creative visions. In contrast the e-moderator’s communication should not express a personal opinion; rather, it should clarify and extend the thinking of other people by using a carefully selected voice, tone and critical thinking strategy. We explored and used the following six voices:
This voice is needed when dialogue is “stuck”, needs a fresh approach or encouragement to dig deeper. It often finds the overlooked or unexplored questions. If little has been posted in a discussion this voice can provide a fresh start.
When there have been omissions or misunderstandings, a conceptual facilitator voice can clarify and “tease out” the omitted topics. It focuses specifically on elements of participants’ postings and identifies conceptual areas that need attention. Highlighting short, relevant segments from lengthy responses can guide participants towards clearer, crisper language. The conceptual facilitator can use analogies to explore assumptions or help clarify thinking (pushing the dialogue even deeper).
This voice allows the e-moderator to explore the beliefs and motivations behind participants’ comments. It is used when a dialogue needs “deepening” or “clarifying” and it’s done in a way that the students’ comments are restated in shorter, more precise language than found in original postings.
The personal muse voice helps when dialogues are “slowing down” or “getting muddled”. It offers no praise for specific comments, but instead incorporates them into the e-moderator’s own musings to build context for further reflection and deeper, more thorough analysis of ideas.
This focuses on key points, listing and comparing them with an eye towards recognising common features. The mediator voice may list different directions taken in the thread and negotiate paths in which the participants’ collective energy can be best directed. It honours all participants’ views but redirects discussion towards goals that are central to the interests of all parties. The mediator voice can be used to redirect tension.
Key points that have been omitted or need reinforcing can be highlighted or introduced through characters or tales. The role-play voice can include situations gleaned from one’s personal experience. When progress has been blocked, role-play can spark the discussion by introducing necessary alternative perspective.
Using a variety of tones in postings, adds appeal to learners and makes e-moderators more effective. Online communications need to be friendly and invite further discussion. Meanings can easily be misinterpreted without the presence of body language. Postings need to show respect for the learners and create a safe, pleasurable learning environment where participants feel free to express their opinions. An online learning environment is not the place for sarcasm, anger or threatening messages. Messages created and posted in haste, when you are busy, do more harm than no response at all.
During the course we also experimented with the use of eight different tones to add dimension and personality to our messages.
A neutral tone can be used for almost any intervention but can become very boring if used consistently. When there is lots of hard work underway, a nurturing tone ensures the dialogue and work continues well. It is a tone that can be used to empathise when participants are challenging their own previously held beliefs.
When humorous, imaginative and whimsical tones are used well, they draw participants into enjoyable dialogue and this in turn contributes to the overall health of the learning environment.
An analytical tone is useful for providing an analysis of points of focus in the dialogue. A curious tone is useful for delving deeper and probing participants’ ideas. Sometimes it is necessary to ask specific questions or say something that might put some participants off-side if not approached carefully. Using an informal tone will help in this situation.
Generally we used a combination of tones in our postings but we only ever used one voice at a time.
Critical thinking strategies impact the dialogue more directly than voice or tone because they are at the heart of any learning environment.
Collison et al (2000) identified two classes of critical thinking strategies and three sub‑strategies used when the dialogue doesn’t focus in on the important issues that need to be explored:
· Strategies that sharpen the focus of the dialogue
· Identifying direction
· Sorting ideas for relevance
· Focusing on key points
· Strategies that help participants dig deeper into the dialogue
· Full-spectrum questioning
· Making connections
· Honouring multiple perspectives
Employing critical thinking strategies, voice and tone in our postings enabled us to move from the centre of the online discussions and become true guides on the side when we were undertaking the e-moderator’s role. The following diagram sets out one of the processes for intervening in a dialogue.
What is the rationale for the post? What purpose does it serve? Is the group getting socially focused? Are focus and direction unraveling? Given an intervention now, what might be the result? Is the timing sensible?
2. Dialogue elements
What dialogue elements (citations, paraphrases or quotes from participants’ postings) might fit into your post? How do these elements relate to rationale for the post, the assignment and the direction of the dialogue?
Given your rationale and selected dialogue elements, which voice best reflects your diagnosis of what the dialogue needs?
4. Critical-thinking strategy
Given your rationale, the dialogue elements you’ve selected, and the voice you’ve chosen, what critical thinking strategy will best support your purpose? Do you need to help the group sharpen the focus or dig deeper? Consider an alternative voice and perhaps an alternative strategy to clarify your voices.
Consider what tone fits best with your rationale, dialogue elements, strategy and voice. Is a social frame or introduction needed?
6. Outline the post
Roughly outline, perhaps mentally, the proposed posting, including elements you’ve drawn from the dialogue.
7. Craft the intervention
Compose the post. The purpose of the note should be clearly reflected through the critical-thinking strategy and voice you’ve selected. You may wish to try out an alternative voice or strategy to see if it might fit better. Remind yourself that questions are not the only tools at your disposal; you can paraphrase, seek clarification, cite tensions, introduce a metaphor or tale or use a drawing or cartoon.
8. Reflect participants’ contributions
Participants’ thoughts and questions should be prominent in the body of your composition. The post should be a reflection of their ideas, not yours.
9. Craft a message title
Compose an opening and title (subject line) that catch participants’ interest, honor participants’ contributions and crisply transition to the content of the post.
10. Review and revise
Review the composition process, starting with your rationale. Can the composition achieve your intended purpose? Is it too broad, too narrow, too complex, too simplistic? Does it effectively weave and focus participants’ ideas or open them to a deeper level? Revise your post to answer these questions.
Figure 2: Process of crafting an intervention (Collison et al 2000, p162-163)
It seemed so ‘artificial’ to do this at first. I found it extremely difficult to concentrate on what I wanted to say while also concentrating on how I wanted to say it. Instead I opted to draft my posting first and then consider critical thinking strategy, voice and tone after getting my main message down.
“In an alternative craft-and-polish approach, you simply draft your posting without considering voice or strategy. Then, you go back and rewrite your message, guided by the voice and critical-thinking strategy that seems optimal given the goal of your intervention.” (Collison et al 2000, p163)
During the course, we discussed the differences between social, argumentative and pragmatic dialogue. We shared our previous online moderating experiences and continually challenged ourselves to explore ways of improving them as we worked through the course. Peer review provided meaningful and constructive feedback. Full spectrum questioning and critical thinking strategies were utilised during the peer reviews. Our online learning was not only active, it was interactive.
“Knowledge building occurs as students explore issues, examine one another’s arguments, agree, disagree and question positions. Collaboration contributes to higher order learning through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution, in which new ways of understanding the material emerge as a result of contact with new or different perspectives.” (Harasim 1989)
Collaborative cooperative assignments were introduced during the third week and I began to recognise my changing role as a student. I was no longer a passive receptacle for hand‑me‑down knowledge. I was constructing my own knowledge by continually asking questions and searching for answers. I depended on my peers rather than the instructor and was interested in absolutely everything they contributed. I analysed their contributions carefully and when they expanded my learning, I had to determine how far I needed or wanted to explore them further.
The instructor was focussing on guiding me to achieve success and become a self-regulated strategic learner (Mercer, Jordan, Miller 1994).
One person’s freedom to send messages at any time and however often may lead to another’s information overload (Burge, Laroque, Boak 2000). It was necessary to carefully reflect on the value of messages we drafted for posting. Just saying ‘I agree’ was usually not a valuable contribution but if omitted when a very pertinent point was raised in a posting, was seen as lack of interest by the author.
The importance of asking questions was stressed right from the beginning. I never once felt that anything I wanted to ask was an inappropriate or stupid question. I learnt that the use of colour in the appropriate place in messages adds true dimension to the learning.
We explored three principles that Concord Consortium have found support effective moderation and how online discussion areas offer many advantages that can’t be found in face-to-face settings.
1. Moderating takes place in both a professional and social context.
2. The style of “guide on the side” (vs. “sage on the stage” or more recently “host on the post”) is most appropriate for leading a virtual learning community
3. Online moderation is a craft that has general principles and strategies – that can be learned.
We discussed the approach to online moderating used in our course. This is based on a pedagogical foundation of guided enquiry which figures prominently in the work of experts such as Peter Senge and Chris Argyris.
Combining our group knowledge we looked at the skills, abilities and strategies that a good e‑moderator needs. Postings from our two e-moderators were also examined to see how they assisted in enhancing our online dialogue. As a group we felt that e-moderators needed to be good listeners and needed to know when and when not to intervene in the learners’ discussion. It would have been detrimental to our own knowledge building if the e‑moderators had intervened when we were actively exploring and discussing each others views and experiences. E-moderators should only intervene when they need to help participants dig deeper i.e. when a discussion just scapes the surface. They also need to be able to summarise discussions effectively.
E-moderators need to be able to assess the learner’s performance based on their evaluation of the learner’s contribution to the online discussions. People skills are as important online as they are off-line. Investigating how to use humour effectively online prompted some of us to dig out our emoticon dictionaries. Evaluating and continuously improving one’s own moderation skills is vital for continuous improvement.
Our diversity as a group was acknowledged. The instructor ensured we felt comfortable in our online learning environment by initially gathering details on our background and giving us the option of sharing a photo of ourselves (or a drawing or poem instead) in our course home pages. While initially mastering the software, a suggestion was made that we “craft” our assignments and projects offline first (a great tip for the less technically savvy). Because the netcourse moved at a weekly pace rather than a daily pace, it allowed us to participate according to our individual schedules. Assignments were due by day rather than date and time, allowing for the different time zones of the participants.
Different learning styles were catered for. According to Honey and Mumford (1986) students use a mixture of active, practical, theoretical and reflective learning. We had activitists in our group who ‘held the floor’ at times and appreciated the opportunity to learn from new problems and experiences. The pragmatists amongst us looked for links between what we were learning and work related problems or opportunities. Many of the theorists liked the high level of peer interaction. There were times however when the theorist’s desire for too much in‑depth discussion on finer points threatened to stop us moving forward. Reflective learners were given the time to think deeply before responding and entering into further discussion.
It is interesting that my learning style online seems to be different from my learning style in a conventional setting. Online I am a pragmatic, reflective learner. In a classroom environment I am (was) more an activist. This online course has either changed my learning style or I use different learning styles in different contexts.
The success of this course was greatly enhanced by the provision of a separate social area. This gave us an area to retreat to for less formal, non-course related discussions. In the early stages some of our social discussion was interspersed with our topical dialogue and, at times, this steered us off track. It also gave us an excuse to converse in social dialogue rather than confront issues which challenged us. Social discussion that ‘grows’ in the middle of formal course dialogue also takes up valuable time that the learner may not have at their disposal. We soon learnt to keep most of the social ‘chit-chat’ for our social area.
I regularly retreated there to get to know my peers and to talk further about side issues that arose in our dialogues along the way. We shared jokes, tears and frustrations, happy and sad times together. Our social exchanges helped us to bond as a virtual learning community but not at the expense of our course focus. Responses to initial messages in this social context seemed to quickly build a sense of trust within the group.
When someone was “missing” from our weekly formal discussions, we had no empty seat in a classroom to indicate they were absent. This social area is where we were really able to support each other when our personal lives had to take precedence.
An added dimension to the whole course was a side dialogue on enquiry-based pedagogy that moved in and out of our formal but mainly social discussions for about six weeks. Socially we also explored research by Jarvenpaa and Leidner (1998) on trust in global virtual teams. I were very interested in this as it surprised me how quickly I trusted everyone and how I communicated so openly and honestly almost from day one.
Communication behaviours that facilitate trust early in a group’s life
· Social communication
· Communication of enthusiasm
Communication behaviours that help maintain trust later in a group’s life
· Predictable communication
· Substantial and timely responses
Members actions that facilitate trust early in a group’s life
· Coping with technical uncertainty
· Individual initiative
Members actions that help maintain trust later in a group’s life
· Successful transition from social to procedural to task focus
· Positive leadership
· Phlegmatic response to crises
Figure 3: Trust facilitating communication behaviours and member actions (Jarvenpaa & Leidner 1998)
My role as a student changed. I stopped looking for “correct answers” from the e‑moderators and instructor very early in the course. Instead, I realised the benefit of being a member of a collaborative learning community where I held my ideas up alongside the ideas of others for discussion and exploration. I engaged in dialogue that deepened and focused discussion and drew out new ideas for everyone to agree or argue on. The quality of my feedback in this type of asynchronous online environment improved dramatically. It took me time to “craft” clear, well thought out meaningful posts beneficial to all members of the learning community.
This course remains open for participants to revisit indefinitely. Writing this paper has given me the opportunity to revisit, reflect and recall a truly amazing learning experience which enabled me to interact with my peers, instructor and expert e-moderators to build knowledge and develop my online moderation skills. At the same time I experienced the changing role of today’s student.
Online learning is a domain that shouldn’t be approached from the theoretical framework that underpins traditional face-to-face or distance mode education. The distinct nature of online education needs to be recognised if we are to realise its full potential for educational opportunities. (Harasim 1989)
Many institutions expect teachers to teach in a way they have never learnt themselves. All teachers should become an online learner before they start teaching online.
Berge, Z., 2000, ‘New Roles for Learners and Teachers in Online Higher Education’, Hart, G., Readings and Resources in Global Online Education, pp3-9, Whirligig Press, Melbourne
Collison, G, & Elbaum, B., & Haavind, S., & Tinker, R., 2000, Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators, Atwood Publishing, Madison
Harasim, L.M 1989, ‘On-Line Education: A New Domain’ Mindweave: communication, computers and distance education, pp. 50-62, Pergamon Press, Oxford
Honey, P, & Mumford, A (1986) Using Your Learning Styles, Honey, Maidenhead
Paulsen, M. F., 1995, ‘Moderating Educational Computer Conferences’, Berge, Z. & Collins, M., Computer-mediated Communication and the On-line Classroom in Distance Education, Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ
Salmon, G., 2000, E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, Kogan Page Limited, London
Biggs, J. 1995 ‘The Role of Metalearning in Study Processes’, British Journal of Educational Psychology Vol 55, pp.185-212.
Burge, E.J., Laroque, D., Boak, C. 2000, ‘Baring Professional Souls: Reflections on Web Life’, Journal of Distance Education, vol. 15, no. 1, pp.81-98.
Mercer, C.D., Jordan, L.A., Miller, S.P. 1994, ‘Implications of constructivism for teaching math to students with moderate to mild disabilities’, The Journal of Special Education vol. 28, no. 3, pp.290-306.
Concord Consortium home page: http://www.concord.org.
Jarvenpaa, L.S., Leidner, D.E. 1998, Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams, http://hyperion.math.upatras.gr/commorg/jarvenpaa/
Masie Center ‘What is Your Learning Support Agreement?’ TechLearn Trends Aug, 1999 http://www.techlearn.net/trends/trendsLSA.htm
Salmon, G. 2001, E-moderating: adding the magic, presented to Collaborative Learning, London April 2001 http://pcbs042.open.ac.uk/gilly/download/magic1.htm
My sincere thanks to Dr Gilly Salmon from the Open University Business School in the UK for her critique of my manuscript.
Special thanks to Barbara Sullivan-Windle from Southbank Institute of TAFE for her critique of my first draft.
Sincere thanks to Sarah Haavind from Concord Consortium for her message of support after reading my manuscript.
Lyn Ambrose © 2001. The author assigns to Southern Cross University and other educational and non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The author also grants a non-exclusive licence to Southern Cross University to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and in printed form with the conference papers.
 A body of study offered via worldwide digital electronic communications. The term netcourse is derived from the term “network”, which refers to a system of associated computers that allows users to share information. (Collison et al 2000)
 This enables private messages to be sent to any member of the learning community via email or you can post a message for all members to see on a discussion/notice board.
 Messages that encourage further discussion.
 This is a text-based asynchronous method of electronic communication in which comments to an original post are listed below, and indented under, the original post. Comments to comments are indented again. A thread then refers to the full list of comments and the original post. (Hence the term threaded discussion)