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Online Discussion Forums in Higher Education: Is 'Lurking' Working?

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Online discussion forums are increasingly becoming a key part of the Higher Education curriculum. Much has been written about the benefits of these and how, via participating in these discussions, students are facilitated in their learning. However, relatively less attention has been paid to students who 'lurk'. This 'non-contributing' behaviour is perceived as negative, yet whilst it may not create or encourage discussion, it does not necessarily follow that students who are not engaged will not go on to learn from this activity. This research explored the experiences of a group of 18 students who were required to contribute to a discussion forum as part of their Education Studies course. The extent of, and reasons for 'lurking' are reported. It was found that students 'lurked' largely due to a lack of academic confidence, and those who did lurk, actually learned from the activity. The implications of these findings for educators and forum design are discussed.
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... Definitions of lurkers Negative, positive, and quantitative perspective (Ling et al., 2005) describes the propensity to maintain a strategic distance from contributing whereas profiting from the endeavors of others negative perspective somebody who needs something for nothing (Rafaeli & Raban, 2005) freeloaders or free-riders who take without responding and are seen as covering up and assuming untrue identities (Amichai-Hamburger, 2005) somebody who watches what is going on, but doesn't take an interest or remains quiet, and is in this way related with observation, quiet, laziness/ passivity, or bystander behavior (Nonnecke & Preece, 2003) lurking is "a vital and individual actions that include a 'complex set of rationales, activities, and contexts' driven by the individual's needs, objectives, personal background, and reasons" positive perspective (Mazuro & Rao, 2011) lurking is "a 'reception only' participation, which permits lurkers to pick up a superior and more profound understanding of online peers' opinion and to be able to gain an understanding of perusing diverse points of view" ...
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Building learning communities in cyberspace; effective strategies for the online classroom Situated Learning; Legitimate Peripheral Participation
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