2. Online learning and the evaluation of group processes

D. N. Philip


The current rapid increase in online classes using learning community approaches and the emergence of learning communities in knowledge economy businesses has created an awareness that little is known about the group dynamics that allow learning communities to succeed or fail.

In recent years, an innovative network science approach to the understanding of group processes has evolved. This approach allows the discovery of patterns among group interactions. The Knowledge Forum knowledge building environment has a suite of online tools for tracking students’ interactions with the environment, and these interactions are analyzed using network analysis techniques.

In a study of a Gr. 5/6 hybrid class, it was found that a network analysis of note reading showed a very high note reading density of 92%, that building-on was much lower at 15%, and that note contribution rates showed a linear trend. Sociograms are used as a network visualization tool, including both 2-D and 3-D network visualizations.

Interpreting these data in light of the instructor’s knowledge of the class can yield useful data about student performance within the group.

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