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Journal of Information Systems Education

Abstract

This paper presents a taxonomy of applications for asynchronous discussion groups as used in education. The paper begins by defining common characteristics supported by discussion board technologies: unstructured text, concurrent viewing and contribution, linear or threaded organization, and accessibility on demand. To justify the existence of distinct types of discussion boards, a variety of criteria that have been used for assessing discussion board effectiveness are presented, followed by examples of actual groups that illustrate effective use of the technologies. These examples include an analysis of the key features that distinguish discussion group uses. Based upon this analysis, the taxonomy of such groups is derived, consisting of support, participative discussion, task collaboration, workflow management and administrative. The paper concludes by identifying four prerequisites for effective discussion boards that have been synthesized from the examples and the literature--openness, efficiency, spirit of collaboration and sense of safety-showing how the relative importance of these prerequisites can depend upon the type of discussion board being examined.

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