Unraveling the message quilt: A case-study examination of student interaction in computer-based communication assignments

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Student interaction and computer-based communication tool usage patterns were examined in two courses that required active use of computer-based communication tools. University students completed a set of communication assignments with either the instructor or other students as the primary audience. Case analyses developed from interviews, interaction coding, and qualitative analysis compare the communication content, the communication exchange format, and the timing of the communicative interaction of these student assignments. The results show that content focused on substantive course material, the exchange format closely mirrored the assignments, and a significant proportion of the communication took place outside of the "normal" 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeframe. These results suggest that instructors must carefully consider the outcomes they desire from the technology to be sure that assignments will lead to those outcomes. Additionally, the results indicate that students do use the technology at varying times, resulting in an expanded classroom space. © 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

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Computers and Composition