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Unit 1-5

Page history last edited by Gary Motteram 9 years, 3 months ago


Unit 1 seminar 


The final stage of this opening unit will involve:


  1. a synchronous seminar
  2. post seminar reading
  3. post seminar follow-up on the forum



Having explored various tools in this unit, and with your own experiences of CMC, we will meet for our first synchronous seminar.


The aims of the seminar will be to:


  • get to know each other a little more in a 'real-time' environment;
  • to reflect on any experiences to date of learning-related use of online tools;
  • to begin to explore the notion of 'connectedness' in online learning groups;
  • to provide experiential 'data' with which to begin to reflect on the specific nature of synchronous discourse. 



Seminar preparation


1. Belderrain (2006: 141) refers to the notion of 'connectedness' to the learning community and this seems to be the potential of computer mediated communication in any form.

2. Before the seminar, also read:

Thurston, A. (2005) Building online learning communities. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 14(3), 353-369 and if you have time: Motteram, G. and Forrester, G. (2005). Becoming an online distance learner: What can be learned from students’ experiences of induction to distance programmes? Distance Education 26 (3), 281-298.


Thinks about what both of these articles have to say and relate this to the start up of the course unit.


    • Later in this course you'll thinking about strategies to help learners gain a sense of 'connectedness' to their course and to the community with which they are studying. For the moment, reflect on any personal experiences you have of online learning to date; identify aspects of Thurston's research findings that you can relate to, and which make you think about your own practice as a learner.
    • Read the paper critically and reflect on challenges to developing 'connectedness' in a learning community.


Come prepared with your thoughts to the online seminar. At the beginning of the session, I will provide a brief presentation on the attributes and challenges of desktop video conferencing, relating this to notions of connectedness in learning communities. I will then open up the the session for discussion of the articles and your experiences so far.


Environment and arranging a time

We will meet synchronously during week 4 in Adobe Connect. I will post a set of meeting times and a url for meeting up in Adobe Connect.




After the seminar

Our post seminar discussion will move us on to begin to think about the nature of learning through different tools. We will draw on the synchronous seminar experience itself to prompt reflection.


  • What do you believe are some of the specific features of synchronous online interaction?
  • What are the implications for the e-tutor of the potentials and challenges of synchronous group meetings?
  • How does synchronous exchange contribute to your learning? Try to be specific when you reflect on this:-)
  • Do you have any experience of using such tools in your own professional contexts? Describe any usage and observations about how the tool affects the discourse and participation.


To help you to clarify your thoughts or prompt further reflection on the forum, read the following article written by Gary on research carried out with a group following an online course in 2000. As the discussions develop during the course unit, we will be returning to the roles of different synchronous and asynchronous tools and analysing some of the discourse that is generated within them.


Motteram, G. (2001) The role of synchronous communication in fully distance education. Australian Journal of Educational Technology. 17/2: 131-149 Available at http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet17/ajet17.html


Other articles you might consider using to follow up your thoughts and experiences of synchronous online learning might include:

Kear, K.,  Chetwynd, F., Williams, J. & Donelan, H. (2012) Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: Perspectives of tutors using a new medium. Computers & Education, 58(3), 953-963.


Cornelius, S. (2014) Facilitating in a demanding environment: Experiences of teaching in virtual classrooms using web conferencing. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45, 260–271.


I have picked the two articles above because they don't focus on language learning. There are a lot of articles that do look at the role that audio/video conferencing and other synchronous tools play in online learning.


There is also this guide by Chatterton about using Elluminate and Blackboard Collaborate; similar systems to Adobe Connect. Chatterton has also published articles about this.




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