Students’ use of Asynchronous Voice Discussion in a Blended‑Learning Environment: A study of two undergraduate classes
Contemporary discussions of education in blended-learning environments increasingly emphasize the social nature of learning which emphasizes interactions among students, or among students and instructors. These interactions can occur asynchronously using a text based discussion forum. A text-based discussion forum, however, may not work well for all participants as some find it difficult to explain complex concepts in words, while others complain of being misunderstood due to the absence of verbal cues. In this study, we investigated the use of a Wimba Voice Board to support asynchronous voice discussion. A quasi-experiment research design involving two classes of undergraduate students was conducted. One of the classes (n = 24 students) used the Wimba Voice Board while the other (n = 18 students) used a text discussion forum in BlackBoard. The results of an independent t-test analysis suggested that there was no significant difference in the students’ degree of participation in the two classes, asynchronous voice discuss class (M = 2.92, SD = 1.586) and text discussion class (M = 2.78, SD = 1.353), (t = 0.299, df = 40, p = 0.767) at the 0.05 level of significance. However, the online discussion appeared to be more sustained in the asynchronous voice discussion group. Analyses of the students’ reflection data suggested that asynchronous voice discussion have several advantages over text forums. Specifically, an asynchronous voice discussion: enables students to understand one another’s messages better, allows students, who prefer speaking to writing, or students who are not proficient in written English, to participate in the discussion, promotes originality of students’ ideas, and helps to foster a sense of online community.
The Electronic Journal of e-Learning