Conversations of virtual learning communities: discourse and survey analyses of moderated online synchronous discussions

Ling Hwee Lim

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Scopus citations


    In web-based education, virtual learning communities are formed to support interaction and attain explicit educational outcomes, with Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) technologies facilitating most of the interaction. From the sociocultural constructivist view that knowledge building occurs during dialogic interaction, little is known about the impact of online synchronous (chat) interaction on supporting knowledge construction, while online asynchronous interaction has been more widely researched. Moreover, analytical frameworks for educational Computer-Mediated Discourse (CMD), mainly designed for asynchronous discussions, are typically less sensitive to chat exchanges. This paper examines the impact of chat interaction on supporting the knowledge construction processes in two tutorial groups. The discourse analysis results revealed participant involvement in meaning negotiation that builds new knowledge. The survey results showed the availability of scaffolding and the appropriation of shared understandings that are characteristic of knowledge construction processes. These findings can guide the pedagogical design of online synchronous instructional environments that facilitate learning through the conversations of virtual learning communities.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)434-458
    Number of pages25
    JournalInternational Journal of Web Based Communities
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jul 2008


    • Collaborative learning
    • Discourse analysis
    • Sociocultural constructivism
    • Student experiences
    • Synchronous computer-mediated communication
    • Web-based learning communities


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