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Academic Talk

11 Jan, 2006
A tool for structured discussions
The description of the Academic Talk tool below takes the form of a questionnaire.

Describe the tool you are building

AcademicTalk is an e-learning tool for structured discussions. The tool requires users to use one of a number of sentence openers such as: ‘Can you elaborate?..’ or ‘Is there evidence?..’. These openers scaffold a more scholarly approach to student discussions. In addition, the interface will suggest openers to use in subsequent messages that develop good argument structure. Evaluation has shown that using these openers students rarely go off topic during discussions.

What problem do you see the development of this tool helping to address?

The project will provide a sound pedagogic tool for supporting structured discussion and argumentation, for use as a component in a suite of tools for e-learning.

Who do you see the being the primary user(s) of this tool?

The tool can be used in a range of online educational contexts for structured and flexible discussion based learning. This will lead to benefits for a wide range of learners.

How do you see your tool being used?

For peer discussion, both synchronous and asynchronous, as part of a structured discussion activity, to deepen both the student course content knowledge and to encourage academic and dialogical approaches to debating ideas, concepts, theories and evidence.

To use your tool, what infrastructure etc (if any) will be needed? (ie - could it be used stand-alone? Would it need a VLE/other system to be in place?)

It may be used as stand-alone, but requires access to a Jabber server computer which provides a Chat-style service. It is also best used as part of a structured discussion activity which provides for individual preparation, group interactions and a plenary or summary.


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