Online discussion: effects of identity versus anonymity and interaction with pedagogical agents
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CitationSmith, G. & Beşaltı, M. (2023). Online Discussion: Effects Of İdentity Versus Anonymity And İnteraction With Pedagogical Agents. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 1–18.
This study investigated: (a) how the task relevance of postings differed between anonymous versus identified online discussions in elementary school, and (b) how game-like conversations with story characters impacted the task relevance of postings. A total of 342 fourth graders in Slovenia participated in the study. During one and a half-hour, synchronous online sessions, students read short web-based eBooks with small group online discussions and game-like conservations with characters. We employed a mixed-method approach, combining both qualitative and quantitative research data. All discussion postings were qualitatively coded in terms of discussion relevance, and other functionalities. The frequencies of the qualitative codes were computed statistically. The results revealed that students in name-identified group discussions were significantly more on-task than those in anonymous discussions. Furthermore, students who engaged in game-like interactions with story characters were also significantly more on task than those who did not. The effective design of small-group synchronous online discussions within an interactive eBook has great potential in promoting engagement in reading, and making reading more social, in times of pandemiccaused remote education, or at any time.