E-moderation of synchronous discussions in educational settings: A nascent practice

Baruch B. Schwarz, Christa S. Asterhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


E-moderation has been a common practice in asynchronous discussions of postsecondary courses. We consider here e-moderation of synchronous discussions in the school context. We adopt a design research approach to elaborate an environment, the Argunaut system, that fits the reality of classrooms in which moderation of several small-group synchronous discussions in parallel is desirable. We describe the Argunaut system and then describe an experiment in which a moderator could elaborate several strategies in 2 synchronous discussions (1 with 2 groups in parallel and 1 with 4 groups in parallel). Through the technique of cued retrospective reporting, we could identify those strategies and could show how technology and moderation are interwoven. We then assessed whether the actions of the moderator had some positive impact on the flow of the discussions. The positive findings that emerge from this study indicate that teachers can enact this novel practice in classrooms, enabling by such proper guidance for productive engagement in the synchronous discussions of many students in the same class.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)395-442
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here and the development of the Argunaut system was supported by the 6th Framework Program of the European Community (Project 027728). We are grateful to Reuma De Groot and Raul Drachman for coordinating all of the project efforts; to Andreas Harrer, Ulrich Hoppe, Adam Giemza, Rakheli Hever, Matthias Krauβ, Bruce McLaren, and many others for their part in developing the Argunaut system; and to Reuma De Groot, Rupert Wegerif, Maarten de Laat, and Astrid Wichmann for implementing pedagogies in educational settings.


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