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29

individually (blogs) or collaboratively (wikis), visually (video-casts) or aurally (podcasts)

in a user-friendly platform that emphasizes organization and effectiveness (Rollett et al.,

2007, p. 88). Some of the key features which are present in many online classrooms are

discussion boards, homepages, e-mail, blogs, wikis, electronic journals and chat just to

name a few.

Discussion Boards

Discussion boards are areas of an online classroom where all learners discuss a

specific

topic.

According

to

Rovai

(2001),

the

discussion

board

tool

of

an

online

classroom is the second most positive and critical aspect in an online class (Rovai,

Building Classroom Community at a Distance: A Case Study). The keys to success are to

have small groups participating in the discussion board and have the instructor as the

facilitator. This helps to create the ―community of practice‖ (Kling & Courtright, 2003).

There are two types of discussion boards: subject specific and non-subject specific. The

non-subject specific discussion boards attempt to replicate the social aspect of a face-to-

face classroom. Examples of non-subject specific folders are: autobiography folders,

cybercafés,

prayer requests,

devotionals,

and

ritual

folders.

These

gathering places

provide a tool to create student-student and student-instructor connectedness. Students

use these tools only as much as they see it as being beneficial. The most popular non-

subject specific folder was the autobiography folder according to the case study done by

Woods and Ebersole (2003). This study was done using two online courses and 4 non-

subject

matter

specific

folders

in

each

course.

There

were

multiple

data

collection

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