Are lukers still learning

Topics: 1% rule, Educational psychology, Virtual community Pages: 7 (3245 words) Published: November 4, 2014
Are Lurkers still learning What is a lurker Lurkers often constitute a problem in net based learning environments. Lurkers are students who do not actively participate in discussions and other collective activities on the net. They may very well be active learners behind the scenes, reflecting on course contents and on contributions by other students. However, if active participation is used as a measure of learning or even as a criterion for assessment, lurking is a problem for both students and teachers. This group of people have, for the want of a better term, been described in the literature as lurkers (Nonnecke, Preece, Andrews, Vontour, Bowes, and Rafaeli). While alternative descriptors have been provided by Salmon (browser), McDonald (legitimate peripheral participant), Williams (ROPs -Read Only Participants) and Lee (vicarious learner). (Rafaeli et al (2004) saw lurkers as paying Regular visits to the community but reticence or very seldom posting and A persistent but silent audience Nonnecke Preece, 2001say they are One who posts infrequently or not at all. Lurkers are sometimes considered negatively because they freeload off the other members contributions. However, this may only be true if the number of active participants is very small and they have to engage in a disproportionate amount of activity for the community to survive. After all, online learning communities are not so different to the classrooms of our youth all the personalities we remember from the past are present in online learning communities. I believe that, from an economical point of view and depending on the business model of the Online Community (OC), lurkers may be as valuable as non-lurkers. For OCs that rely on advertising revenue for instance, the most important success factor is online traffic, independent of the type of user (assuming that lurkers and non-lurkers behave similarly in terms of their attention paid to ads). The more users, the better. Of course, enough content and an active community of users will improve the quality of the OC and thus its traffic, but as seen in the example of Wikipedia and other successful OCs, a small share of active users is enough to provide a valuable experience to the whole community. In Evidences of Participation Inequality, Smith (1992) was probably the first to notice this asymmetry of contribution. He analyzed a virtual community called the Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) and found out that most users did not actively participate in its construction. In fact, 50 of all postings in the WELL were being generated by only 1 of the community, about 70 people. Nielsen (2006) also looked at many different situations in the web where contribution inequality is visible, like for example Only 5 of internet users worldwide have blogs, and only 0,1 post daily. 0,2 of the users of Wikipedia are active contributors, and about 0,003 contribute about two thirds of the sites edits. Less than 1 of Amazon buyers leave reviews of the purchased products. To synthesize this effect, he developed a rule of thumb according to which user participation follows more or less a 90-9-1 rule 90 of users are lurkers (i.e. read or observe but dont contribute). 9 of users contribute from time to time. 1 of users participates a lot and account for most contributions. As to why lurkers do not actively participate in OCs, Preece et al. (2004) made interesting findings. They surveyed lurkers from 375 MSN bulletin board communities and they revealed five reasons not to participate Understanding the Lurkers What is a lurkers behavioural pattern McDonald (2003, p. 4) states that Lurkers or peeps try to remain back ... peeping without stopping to speak As such, lurkers are characterised as people preferring not to engage in hasty conversation until they have synthesised their views and considered their argument or position in relation to the debate. Nonnecke et al (2004) noted that while posters were...
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