Synchronous voice-enabled communication is an established communication technology that is becoming increasingly available in learning management systems. Instructors can implement live voice chats to create engaging learning environments. While research has been reported using synchronous text-based chat, little is known about the experiences distance education learners in graduate study programs have using synchronous voice communication. This article presents findings from a qualitative research project designed to explore graduate students perceptions about the effective use of both synchronous and asynchronous communication within a graduate course offered through a WebCT online environment supplemented by Groove. A constructivist theoretical perspective and grounded theory framed the study. Data sources included questionnaires and individual computer-recorded and transcribed interviews. Content was analyzed by the researcher for themes and confirmed through ongoing member checking with participants. The following five overarching themes were identified and used to understand learners' experiences with and perceptions of synchronous and asynchronous communication technology in a graduate distance education course: 1) community building; 2) easing the cost of communicating online, 3) creating a sense of real class and dialogue, 4) instilling a trust in the technology's reliability, and 5) capturing and preserving knowledge.
synchronous communication, asynchronous communication, media richness theory, social conversation
LaPointe, Deborah. "Learners' Perspectives about Uses of Synchronous and Asynchronous Conferencing Systems within an Online Graduate Course: Interpretations through an Activity System." (2008). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/educ_fsp/1