Threaded and flat-structured discussions to support online learning present online educators with new and challenging dilemmas. Both formats apply different interfaces, structures and require different organization techniques for presenting postings which may affect the ways students participate. Both formats may impact online learning differently in terms of the organizational scaffold of learning. The purpose of this study was to examine experiences of online students and compare the impact that threaded and flat-structure discussion boards exerted on learning. This study concluded that both formats critically enhanced and inhibited students’ online discussions. Both formats may empower discussion participants differently and with strategic design, can engage learners in more meaningful, deeper and higher order of thinking. To argue that one is better or more effective than the other or to dispute that educators should seek the potential of applying one tool to replace the other is inappropriate. This study proposes that learners should shift their roles from online learners to “network” learners, while instructors should shift their instruction paradigms from online discussions to “network” discussions. Educators should empower network learners to define the organizational scaffolding of their network learning structures and environments. Effective network instructional strategies for network discussions are recommended.
Tu, C., Blocher, M., & Gallagher, L. (2010). Asynchronous Network Discussions as Organizational Scaffold Learning: Threaded vs. Flat-Structured Discussion Boards. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange (JETDE), 3(1). https://doi.org/10.18785/jetde.0301.04