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Anonymity in online discussion forums - does it promote connections?

Johnson, Michael 2010. Anonymity in online discussion forums - does it promote connections? Presented at: 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010, Aalborg, Denmark, 3-4 May 2010. Published in: Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., Hodgson, V., Jones, C., de Laat, M., McConnell, D. and Ryberg, T. eds. Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning 2010. Aalborg: Aalborg University, pp. 198-206.

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Abstract

This paper reports on a study of pre-registration undergraduate nursing and midwifery students' perceptions of the facility to post and read anonymous messages in closed-member University-hosted online forums. Two online focus groups and seven semi-structured interviews were conducted. Nine themes were identified, revealing wide contrasts between students' experience, understanding of and ability to use online anonymity. While the benefits of anonymity were accepted, most interviewees feared the clumsily-worded anonymous comments which so easily spark unpleasant exchanges. Allowing anonymity may open the forum up to these problems, especially considering, from a digital literacies perspective, that the students have such varied backgrounds. But allowing anonymity brings an online forum closer in resemblance to those outside university, i.e. which provided an authentic site for the more experienced students to gain their digital literacy. With clarity in the degree of anonymity, and sensitive moderation of errant messages, allowing the anonymous option could help less digitally experienced students catch up with their peers who cannot do without it.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anonymity; online research methods; discussion boards; student perceptions; promoting connections; digital literacies; networked learning; online pedagogy go
Publisher: Aalborg University
ISBN: 9781862202252
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:27
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/60230

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