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 International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 1, No. 2 (2005) open journal systems 


Online debating to encourage student participation in online learning environments: A qualitative case study at a South African university

Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Rhodes University, South Africa
Markus Mostert, Rhodes University, South Africa


Abstract
The use of computer-mediated communication in higher education presents opportunities for students to be part of an online learning community irrespective of their geographical location. However, students do not always avail themselves of this opportunity and pedagogic strategies for encouraging participation are therefore constantly being explored. One potential strategy to encourage participation is the use of the structured format of online debating. This paper proposes an underlying epistemological perspective on and an informing learning theory of online debating and its potential as a pedagogic strategy to encourage participation in online learning environments. The paper reports on student and staff perceptions of an online debate used during a BEd (Hons) course at a South African university. The findings underline the importance of providing explicit procedures to pave the way for student participation and highlight the potential value of an online debate as a pedagogic strategy to support the development of argumentation and to encourage reflexivity.


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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. ISSN: 1814-0556