Understanding Online Discourse
Online Discourse gives us the unique opportunity to watch our work unfold. Time and distance, which are typically barriers, provide the chance to step back, reflect, and respond. The written, visual, and audio records that remain allow us to review our experiences with enough detail so that we can enjoy them and improve. Exploring questions and building knowledge together present a focused, professional experience that results in mutual learning between students, educators, scholars, and artists.
The WEB Exchange is a collaborative environment that relies on group discussions rather than one-on-one mentoring to reach its goals. Through research and practice, we have come to identify and build on three types of discourse:
Design discussions about individual pieces of work
Dialog discussions about ideas
Information Exchange web publishing of primary resources and experiences
Students, teachers, and mentors use web-based conferencing to discuss
Frank back and forth discussions that bring about greater understanding of a book, a public issue, or the development of community itself, lead to a depth of learning not easily fostered online. The WEB Project has been collaborating with the Vermont Center for the Book and a network of teachers and students to increase the level of critical thinking that goes into such discussions.
A basic function of the WWW is to present information and ideas that are not readily accessible in other forms. Through agency and university partnerships, we have been able to publish information stored in local communities and expose Vermont students to cultures outside the United States. Participants include the UVM Asian Studies Outreach Program, the Oaxaca Partnership, the Putney Historical Society, the Vermont Courthouse Project, the Old Stone Museum, the Vermont Historical Society, the Sheldon Museum.
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