Student engagement in distance learning environments: A comparison of threaded discussion forums and text-focused Wikis

Fei Gao, David Wong


The purpose of this study was to improve the quality of students' online discussion of assigned readings in an online course. To improve the focus, depth, and connectedness of online discussion, the first author designed a text-focused Wiki that simultaneously displayed the assigned reading and students' comments side by side in adjacent columns. In the text-focused Wiki, students were able to read the assigned text in the left column and type their comments or questions in the right column adjacent to the sentence or passage that sparked their interest. In post-participation surveys, data were gathered about students' experiences in the text-focused Wiki and prior experiences in threaded discussion forums. Students reported more focus, depth, flow, idea generation, and enjoyment in the text-focused Wiki.

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