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The CyberCafé - Informal Communication in an Online Course
“ The Cybercafé” – Informal Interaction and Social Presence in an e-learning course. <ul><li>Raquel Crato </li></ul><ul><li>Lina Morgado </li></ul><ul><li>António Quintas-Mendes </li></ul><ul><li>(Laboratório de Educação a Distância, Universidade Aberta) </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>Purdue University Writing Lab 20th EADTU, Lisboa, November 2007
“ Two Pitfalls in Online Education” (Kreijns et al. 2003) <ul><li>1) Taking for granted that social interaction automatically takes place just because an environment makes it technologically possible. </li></ul><ul><li>2) The tendency to restrict social interaction to task related situations while social interventions aimed at socio-emotional processes are negleted. </li></ul>
The “CyberCafé” <ul><li>We usually design a social s pace aimed at providing non-task contexts that allow social, off-task communication: The Cybercafé. </li></ul><ul><li>To promote social interaction that contribute to affiliation, impression formation, mutual knowledge, sense of group and community </li></ul>
Informal Communication <ul><li>Two traditions in the study of Language: </li></ul><ul><li>Language as communication and </li></ul><ul><li>Social Tie </li></ul><ul><li>Language as Representation </li></ul>
Language as Social Tie <ul><li>Malinowski (1923) : “Our talk… serves to establish bonds of personal union between people brought together by the mere need of companionship… It is only in certain very special uses among a civilized community and only in its highest uses that language is employed to frame and express thoughts.” </li></ul><ul><li>JOHN L. LOCKE (1998): “I`ve come to believe that the more deeply biologic function of talking was created to be, and remains, social and emotional; that talking reveals a disposition to connect with other members of our species, other members of our group.” (p. 53) </li></ul>
THE “CONTENTS” OF INFORMAL TALK <ul><li>“ Inquires about health, comments on weather, affirmations of some supremely obvious state of things – all such are exchanged, not in order to inform, certainly not in order to express any thought.” (Malinowski) </li></ul>
INFORMAL SPACES OF SOCIABILITY : “Third Places” <ul><li>. Ray Oldenburg </li></ul><ul><li>In modern societies time is primarily spent in first places (home) and second places (work). In contrast, third places offer a neutral public space for a community to connect and establish bonds. Third places "host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work." </li></ul>
Online Social Presence <ul><li>the degree to which participants in computer mediated communication feel socially and emotionally connected </li></ul><ul><li>the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into an online community of inquiry </li></ul>
Methodology <ul><li>We have studied 2 Cafés and 2 courses in two quadrimestres. </li></ul><ul><li>Café 1 Course 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Café 2 Course 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Samples of messages: </li></ul><ul><li>the First 2 weeks; 2 weeks in the middle and 2 weeks of the end. </li></ul><ul><li>Total of 1062 Messages = 3810 indicators analysed. </li></ul>
Indicators of Social Presence (Rourke et al. 2001) <ul><li>AFFECTIVE INDICATORS are personal expressions of emotion, feelings, beliefs, and values. Affective indicators might be thought of as ways of projecting personal immediacy/social presence into online discourse, as ways of making up for the lack of gestures, facial expressions, and/or intonation in face-to-face communication: Expressions of emotion, emoticons, humor, and self-disclosure. </li></ul><ul><li>INTERACTIVE INDICATORS provide evidence that the other is attending, and might be thought of as suggesting interpersonal presence/immediacy. Interactive indicators support interactions among communicators: Acknowledgement, agreement, approval, invitation, and personal advice. </li></ul><ul><li>COHESIVE INDICATORS are verbal immediacy behaviors that build and sustain a sense of group commitment or group presence/immediacy. Cohesive indicators support the development of community: Salutations, use of vocatives, group reference, social sharing, and course reference. </li></ul>
RESULTS <ul><li>Afective indicators predominate in the “informal context” but are also present in the “formal context”. </li></ul><ul><li>Interactivity indicators are slightly more frequent in the “formal context” than in the “informal context” </li></ul>
Testing the HiperPersonnal Hypothesis. Walther , 1994; Swan, 2002: <ul><li>Hypothesis: </li></ul><ul><li>There would be an exagerated increase of immediacy behaviours to compensate for the low bandwidth of the media. </li></ul>
Discussion (1) <ul><li>Socio-Emotional content in online communication is prevarsive among all contexts of the learning situation and is not only present in informal contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>social presence can be (strongly) felt by participants in computer-mediated communication. </li></ul><ul><li>and projected into text-based asynchronous discussion using verbal immediacy indicators alone. </li></ul>
Discussion (2) <ul><li>Contrary to the results of Swan (2002) there is no discernible temporal pattern of Social Presence Indicators. There is no continuous descending or ascending line on any of the indicators. </li></ul><ul><li>They depend more on the nature of the course or on the momentum of the course than in the nature of the media. A more collaborative course has more indicators of Afective, Interactive and Cohesive indicators than a less collaborative course. </li></ul>
Discussion (3) <ul><li>As Nardi (2005) points, dimensions of connection must be kept in a state of sufficient excitation or activation to promote effective comunication in wich participants can exchange information and that would be, we think, the main function of the Cybercafé. </li></ul>
QUESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH <ul><li>- Does the CyberCafé affect the Social Climate of the Group? </li></ul><ul><li>- Does the Social Climate affect Collaboration and Learning? </li></ul><ul><li>Different Attitudes of individuals towards the CyberCafé; Do the non-participant individuals benefit from the general climate originated by the CyberCafé? </li></ul>