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