'Co-alienation' mediated by common representations in synchronous E-discussions

Baruch B. Schwarz, Yifat Ben David Kolikant, Maria Mishenkina

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Synchronous e-discussions have become common social practices in and out of educational institutions. Socio-cultural psychologists have suggested that intersubjectivity is central for maintenance of face-to-face communication. We study here how communication is maintained in synchronous discussions and whether intersubjectivity is reached. Four university students used a CMC tool to discuss an educational issue. One week later, each student was interviewed on his/her views on the issue. Then, the technique of cued retrospective reporting was used to uncover how each student interpreted each move of the synchronous discussion. The cross analysis of the interviews and the reporting showed that actions were not co-ordinated. Agreements and disagreements were not shared, and order of actions was quite whimsical. We conclude that intersubjectivity was not established. However, communication was maintained through a process of co-alienation - the juxtaposition of incompatible alignments of representations through a common external representation. Although co-alienation is problematic, we show that discussants could learn from the e-discussion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)414-421
Number of pages8
JournalComputer-Supported Collaborative Learning Conference, CSCL
StatePublished - 2013
Event10th International Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, CSCL 2013 - Madison, WI, United States
Duration: 15 Jun 201319 Jun 2013


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