E-communication patterns in collaborative learning networks

Hwee Ling Lim

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Sociocultural constructivism regards communication as vital to the collaborative learning process. In virtual learning groups, dialogic online interactions are the means for exchanging information, social and emotional support that facilitate knowledge construction. A number of studies have analyzed the quality of such electronic educational discourse with discourse and content analytical methods for indications of collaborative knowledge building. However, this paper reports the use of social network analysis (SNA) in tandem with perception survey analysis to analyze and interpret the e-communication patterns of two virtual learning groups. Social network analysis (SNA) is defined as a set of methods enabling the disciplined inquiry into relational patterns between actors based on the assumption that interactions are building blocks that define and sustain learning groups. The data examined in this study comprised electronic logs from weekly online synchronous (chat tutorial) discussions and responses to a web survey from the undergraduate participants of the two tutorial groups. The SNA measure of reciprocity was used to analyze mutuality in information exchange present in the dialogic interaction during the chat tutorial discussions. The reciprocity value shows the strength of the tendency of the group towards mutual exchange of information. Additionally, a web survey was administered to the student participants that covered the extent of peer learning support perceived to be available during the learning process. The quantitative SNA results revealed different tendencies towards reciprocation of ties at group level. The quantitative survey results showed a stronger perception by one group on the availability of peer learning support that was consistent with the SNA findings. These findings on the e-communication patterns in collaborative learning networks are particularly relevant to researchers for the greater insight into the functioning of effective virtual learning groups. The recommendations presented in this paper can also help e-tutors to design facilitation strategies and manage online collaborative learning processes.

    Original languageBritish English
    Title of host publication8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009
    Number of pages7
    StatePublished - 2009
    Event8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009 - Bari, Italy
    Duration: 29 Oct 200930 Oct 2009

    Publication series

    Name8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009


    Conference8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009


    • Computer-mediated communication
    • Distance education
    • E-tutors
    • Social network analysis
    • Sociocultural constructivism
    • Virtual learning environments


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