Lurking and Learning: A Study of Vicarious Interaction in the Online Classroom

By Mark Mabrito.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Although we typically think of interaction as occurring among students and instructor in the online classroom, students also interact with the design of the course itself and the technology that is used to deliver the course to them. A form of interaction that receives less attention in the literature, however, is vicarious interaction, where students observe the interactions of others, but don’t participate as “direct interactors.” This case study examined the communication behaviors of students interacting both directly and vicariously in an online classroom. The amount of conversation students contributed while interacting directly and the amount of conversation they read while interacting both directly and vicariously were counted and categorized. The same analysis was applied to writing assignments students produced subsequent to each type of session. Students completed a brief survey to assess their attitudes towards each form of interaction. Study found differences in patterns of interaction, influences on subsequent writing assignments, and students’ attitudes towards the two types of interaction.

Keywords: Vicarious, Interaction, Online

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.35-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 535.759KB).

Dr. Mark Mabrito

Associate Professor of English, English Department, Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Indiana, USA

Mark Mabrito is an associate professor of English at Purdue University Calumet, where he has taught for the past 16 years. He teaches courses in business and technical writing and Web design and helps to coordinate the professional writing major. Mabrito has a doctoral degree in English from Illinois State University. He has published articles and book chapters in the areas of online education, professional writing, and writing apprehension. Mabrito also has made presentations on online learning at various state and national conferences, both on-site and online.


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