Blended methods for measuring and modeling community in Formal Blended Learning Environments

Richard A. Schwier Ben K. Daniel Virtual Community Research Laboratory University of Saskatchewan

Based on: Schwier, R.A., & Daniel, B.K. (2007). Did we become a community? Multiple methods for identifying community and its constituent elements in formal online learning environments. In N. Lambropoulos, & P. Zaphiris (Eds.), Userevaluation and online communities (pp. 29-53). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Central Concerns
• • • • Focus of research Atomized view of communities Generation of models Using research to inform online learning environments

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Community

Modeling

Constituents

Comparison

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Sense of Community
• Chavis’ “Sense of Community Index” • Rovai & Jordan’s “Classroom Community Scale”
– Connectedness – Learning

• Pre-post design (t-Test, p<.005)

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Interaction Analysis
• Fahy, Crawford & Ally (TAT) • Included only peripheral interactions • Density
– the ratio of the actual number of connections observed, to the total potential number of possible connections 2a/N(N-1) = 2(122)/13(12) = .78

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Interaction analysis
• Intensity
– “levels of participation," or the degree to which the number of postings observed in a group exceed the number of required postings – 858 actual/490 required = 1.75

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Reciprocity ratio
the parity of communication among participants

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Reciprocity

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Characteristics of Community
• Transcript analysis • Interviews • Focus groups

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Characteristics
• • • • • • • Awareness Social protocols Historicity Identity Mutuality Plurality Autonomy • • • • • • • Participation Trust Trajectory Technology Learning Reflection Intensity

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Comparison of characteristics
• Thurstone analysis

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Thurstone Scale

Modeling
Bayesian Belief Network

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006

Conclusions
• Cycle of analysis is more important than specific tools used • Mixed methods seems reasonable, and worked well in practice • Baseline data are needed to situate findings • Modeling is an act of systematic speculation influenced by data (not limited by data)

Curriculum Studies Mini-Conference, November 25, 2006