On-Line Forums: New Platforms for Professional Development and Group Collaboration
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This study evaluated the output, level of participation and perceptions of effectiveness and value among participants in a virtual forum. Twenty-three experts in the field of adult education and community development were invited to participate in a three-week interactive session using a WWW-based, asynchronous computer conferencing system. Data gathered through surveys, interviews, transcript analysis and on-line discussion revealed that this technology has relative advantage for organizers and sponsors, but is perceived by most users as being less satisfying than face-to-face interaction. The on-line forum was found to be observable, trialable and relatively easy to use (compared with existing tools), indicating that this innovation has potential to become a widespread medium for continuing professional education.