Introducing synchronous e-discussion tools in co-located classrooms: A study on the experiences of 'active' and 'silent' secondary school students

Christa S.C. Asterhan*, Tammy Eisenmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Even though the advantages of online discussions over face-to-face discussion formats have been extensively discussed and investigated, the blending of synchronous online discussion tools in co-located classroom settings has been considered with far less intensity. In this paper, we report on secondary school students' experiences and preferences concerning two different discussion formats for critical debate in co-located classroom settings: face-to-face and synchronous, computer-mediated communication (CMC). Data was collected with the help of self-report questionnaires (N = 70) and structured interviews (N = 4). A differentiation was made between students that define themselves as active participants in face-to-face classroom discussions and those who usually remain silent in these settings. The findings highlight several potential advantages of the computer-mediated discussion format, especially in terms of the social-interactive and managerial aspects of classroom discussions. Comparisons between the two groups show that 'silent' students welcome the introduction of CMC with enthusiasm, whereas 'active' students do not show a clear preference. Practical implications as well as new directions for further research are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2169-2177
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data was collected in a secular public school in the Jerusalem metropolitan area. Part of the teaching staff in this school participated in an in-service teacher training provided by the Kishurim program ( Schwarz & De Groot, 2007 ), which partly sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education and European Community R&D funds. The Kishurim program aims to foster argumentation and dialogic activities in secondary schools, both in face-to-face as well as in computer-mediated communication formats. Teachers participate not only in pre- or in-service teacher training programs, but also receive local, in-school support. This is true for both the design and implementation of classroom activities, as well as for the operation of computer-mediated communication tools in classrooms.


  • Argumentation
  • Classroom dialogue
  • Classroom discussions
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Face-to-face communication
  • Individual differences


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