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The Quest for Authenticity: A Study of an Online Discussion Forum and the Needs of Adult Learners
ARTICLE

Australian Journal of Adult Learning Volume 55, Number 1, ISSN 1443-1394

Abstract

The objective of achieving a sense of "authenticity" in an educational context is one that might have immediate appeal, though how this is defined, let alone achieved, remains contested. The concept of "authentic discussion" has traditionally been used in the context of classroom English teaching in schools, but this paper explores its possible application to an online discussion forum at university. Participants in this forum were students in a program designed to prepare adult learners for higher education. Though communication in an online environment differs from face-to-face dialogue, it was found not to be a barrier to "authenticity" in some respects. Multiple perspectives were evident with students building on the ideas of each other, but also being prepared to disagree. The level of support and respect was such that they were willing to tackle sensitive issues, and share in an honest and sometimes revealing way. The role of the lecturer emerged as a critical component in achieving such outcomes. Though claims of "authenticity" are always difficult to substantiate, this study concludes that elements of an "authentic discussion" can be achieved in an online environment and this objective has a particular salience in the context of adult learning.

Citation

McDougall, J. (2015). The Quest for Authenticity: A Study of an Online Discussion Forum and the Needs of Adult Learners. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 55(1), 94-113. Retrieved August 19, 2019 from .

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