In Australia, there is a continuing trend among the institutions of higher learning not only to move components of courses to electronic delivery but even more so for distance learning to become the dominant method of education. This chapter explores how Internet-based asynchronous communication forums utilised in teaching undergraduate courses in sociological theory affect social interaction and student satisfaction. Drawing from an analysis of qualitative data such as student and teachers' perceptions, this case study reveals four key factors leading to learners' satisfaction with electronic forums: 1) trust of people and technology, 2) awareness of how technically-mediated interactions differ from face-to-face interactions, 3) peer-based learning opportunities, and 4) integration of relevant learning materials and opportunities for social engagement. The findings suggest that when asynchronous forums are used as the principle vehicle for communication and learning, students feel less socially isolated, report a sense of belonging, and positively evaluate learning outcomes. The study identifies asynchronous electronic forums as an effective tool for peer learning and social interaction among upper-level distance education students in Australia.
|Title of host publication||Handbook of Research on Social Interaction Technologies and Collaboration Software|
|Subtitle of host publication||Concepts and Trends|
|Place of Publication||United States|
|Publisher||Information Science Reference|
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|