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Structure and Substance in Digital Communication

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Journal of Educational Technology Systems Volume 38, Number 3, ISSN 0047-2395


A growing trend in post-secondary education is the supplementing of classroom discourse with online discourse. This new discourse is often situated in social networking and course management applications. There are several reasons for the move toward online discourse. Wide availability of new hardware and software has played a role. Even more important is an emerging consensus that our societal, economic, and individual futures depend on our capacity to engage complex issues in a collaborative manner. However, this new technology and the techniques they make possible have introduced new problems. Many instructors are finding it more difficult to monitor, evaluate, and direct class discourse. "Social network analysis" and "content analysis" can provide the means to understand the structure of online, digital discourse and the content of digital documents. (Contains 16 figures and 5 tables.)


Thomas, D.A., Sa, L., Li, Z. & Maddux, C.D. (2010). Structure and Substance in Digital Communication. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 38(3), 313-340. Retrieved April 21, 2021 from .

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