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Theorizing “Listening” in Online Discussions: Conceptualization, Research, and Design
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Theorizing “Listening” in Online Discussions : Conceptualization, Research, and Design

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Overview of work on the E-Listening Project 2009-2013

Overview of work on the E-Listening Project 2009-2013

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  • 1. Theorizing “Listening” in Online Discussions Conceptualization, Research, and Design Supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada EARLI 2013 ∙ Munich, Germany Alyssa Friend Wise Simon Fraser University  Vancouver, Canada With grateful thanks to the entire e-listening research team: Trisha, Hsiao, Farshid Marbouti, Jennifer Speer, Yuting Zhao, Simone Hausknecht & Nishan Perera
  • 2. Learning Environment - Online Discussions 2
  • 3. Overview • Conceptualization – What it means to “listen” in an online discussion and why this is important for learning • Research – Empirical findings about how students listen in online discussion contexts including common patterns and dimensions • Design – Introduction of a new graphical discussion forum interface designed to support listening activity
  • 4. CONCEPTUALIZATION ONLINE LISTENING
  • 5. Origins of Online “Listening” • From a social constructivist perspective, the goal of online discussions is for learners to build understanding through dialoging with other • At a basic level this involves Externalizing one’s ideas by contributing posts to an online discussion Taking in the externalizations of others by accessing existing posts Conceptualization
  • 6. Defining Online Listening • Online listening is the activity of attending to others’ posts as part of participation in an online discussion • Similarities to f2f (auditory) listening in a discussion: Conceptualization Receiving another’s ideas that externalized through language Active and complex cognitive process that goes beyond physiological acts of hearing / seeing words Influence of prior experiences - different people can perceive the same message in different ways Integral component of the larger activity of sharing / negotiating / building on / challenging ideas (Strother, 1987; Burleson, 2011; Bodie et al., 2008; Garrison, 1996)
  • 7. Why Listening not Lurking • A Lurker is commonly considered as a person who participates passively in an online discussion, by accessing existing comments but does not contribute. There is often a negative connotation. • Listening is an active process conducted by anyone involved an online discussion. It is considered a productive element of discussion participation, interrelated with contributing. Conceptualization (Nonnecke et al., 2004; Rafaeli et al., 2004; Preece et al., 2004; Muller et al., 2010)
  • 8. Why Listening not Reading • Reading is a generic term for attending to ideas expressed in writing. It often involves a static text, written by a single author, as a cohesive whole and does not necessitate a response. • Listening is a specific term for attending to ideas expressed in writing in an online discussions. Online discussion are multi-authored, dynamic and consist of discrete sub-units (posts) which must be made sense of together. Generating a response is often involved. Conceptualization (Nagel et al., 2009; Hewitt, 2003; Wise, Marbouti et al., 2012)
  • 9. Distinct Characteristics of Online Listening • Listeners (rather than speakers) determine timeline • Control over large decision space – Frequency and length of log-in sessions – Which posts attended to, in what order, for how long – Revisit posts as many times as needed – Reply when ready, unlimited time to prepare • Learners often feel overwhelmed - where to start? Conceptualization
  • 10. RESEARCH ONLINE LISTENING
  • 11. Not If but How Students Listen Much work assumes that students generally attend to others’ posts in online discussions. Yet many studies document limited attention to previous discussion posts overall (Hewitt, 2003; Peters & Hewitt, 2010; Palmer, et al. 2008; Dennen, 2008; Brooks et al., 2013; Thomas, 2002) • Our work shows that the truth lies in between – some learners are attentive, others less so. • More importantly, different learners attend to each other’s posts in diverse ways… Research
  • 12. Microanalytic Case Studies of Listening Date Time Session Action Duration (min) Length (words) Message # 6/3/2011 23:46 1 Read 44.43 413 447 6/3/2011 23:52 1 Read 1.73 60 455 6/4/2011 00:08 1 Scan 0.23 117 459 6/4/2011 00:09 1 Read 12.51 413 460 6/4/2011 23:49 2 Post 3.18 120 477 Dynamic Discussion Map: A record of the discussion to show the historical appearance of the discussion forum at any point in time Log-file Data of Student Actions Research
  • 13. Microanalytic Case Studies of Listening Date Time Session Action Duration (min) Length (words) Message # 6/3/2011 23:46 1 Read 44.43 413 447 6/3/2011 23:52 1 Read 1.73 60 455 6/4/2011 00:08 1 Scan 0.23 117 459 6/4/2011 00:09 1 Read 12.51 413 460 6/4/2011 23:49 2 Post 3.18 120 477 The student views four posts in order Research
  • 14. Microanalytic Case Studies of Listening Date Time Session Action Duration (min) Length (words) Message # 6/3/2011 23:46 1 Read 44.43 413 447 6/3/2011 23:52 1 Read 1.73 60 455 6/4/2011 00:08 1 Scan 0.23 117 459 6/4/2011 00:09 1 Read 12.51 413 460 6/4/2011 23:49 2 Post 3.18 120 477 By the time of their next session, five new posts have appeared Research
  • 15. Microanalytic Case Studies of Listening Date Time Session Action Duration (min) Length (words) Message # 6/3/2011 23:46 1 Read 44.43 413 447 6/3/2011 23:52 1 Read 1.73 60 455 6/4/2011 00:08 1 Scan 0.23 117 459 6/4/2011 00:09 1 Read 12.51 413 460 6/4/2011 23:49 2 Post 3.18 120 477 But these are ignored as the student enters the discussion and right away makes a post Research
  • 16. Common Online Listening Patterns Research Pattern Characteristic Behaviors Disregardful Minimal attention to others’ posts (few posts viewed; short time viewing). Brief and relatively infrequent sessions of activity in discussions. Coverage Views a large proportion of others’ posts, but spends little time attending to them (often only scanning the contents). Short but frequent sessions of activity, focusing primarily on new posts. *May be socially-oriented or content-driven. Focused Views a limited number of others’ posts, but spends substantial time attending to them. Few extended sessions of activity in discussions. Thorough Views a large proportion of other’s posts; spends substantial time attending to many of them. Long overall time spent listening; considerable revisitiation of posts already read. (Wise et al, 2012a; Wise et al.; 2012b; Wise et al.; 2012c; Wise et al, 2013a)
  • 17. Dimensions of Listening Behavior Dimension Definition Breadth The quantity of unique posts one views - important in terms of the diversity of ideas a learner is exposed to. Depth The length of time spent reading posts – important to allow for deeper consideration of others’ ideas. Temporal Contiguity The degree to which learners disperse or concentrate their participation - important for integration / evolution over time. Revisitation The extent to which students return to posts made by themselves and others – important in connecting ideas across the discussion. Research (Wise et al, 2013b)
  • 18. Depth Breadth Low High Low Disregardful Coverage High Focused Thorough Matrix of Patterns along Dimensions Research
  • 19. Identifying Patterns by Breadth / Depth Breadth Depth
  • 20. Connections with Speaking • Greater revisitation of others’ posts is associated with richer responsiveness • Greater listening depth (% of real reads) is associated with richer argumentation • No relationship found between listening breadth and quality of speaking Research
  • 21. DESIGN ONLINE LISTENING
  • 22. Interface Design - The Challenge • Listening in typical linear, text-based discussions is often problematic – Students try to keep up by logging in frequently but engage with posts disjointedly and superficially – Students feel overwhelmed. With no sense of the whole, they engage in skimming and single- pass approaches that focus only on the most recently posted messages Design
  • 23. A New Graphical Interface To Support More Productive Listening Interactions Design (Marbouti, 2012)
  • 24. Design A New Graphical Interface To Support More Productive Listening Interactions (Marbouti, 2012)
  • 25. Other Design Efforts Ongoing work to test the efficacy of providing students with listening guidance • Make discussion participation more manageable • Support quality of discussion contributions Potential for learning analytics to support purposeful participation • Revealing invisible activity (or the lack thereof) • Diverse reactions – denial and change Design
  • 26. Conclusions • Online listening is a useful concept for investigating the ways learners attend to others’ comments in online discussions • Attending to others’ posts is often a challenging aspect of discussion participation; learners listen in varied ways • Listening depth and revisitation are associated with increased responsiveness and depth of content in posting • We can design technological and pedagogical interventions to support more productive online listening (and speaking…)
  • 27. For More Information E-Listening Project Website http://www.sfu.ca/~afw3/research/e-listening/ Principal Investigator Dr. Alyssa Wise alyssa_wise@sfu.ca