Moving Intersubjectivity from Margin to Mainstream in Threaded Discussions

Live blogging the last session at USDLA2012

Moving Intersubjectivity from Margin to Mainstream in Threaded Discussions
Presenter: Dr. Barbara Hall, Instructional Consulting Group

Getting Started

Barb is passionate about the quality of threaded discussions – and is on a mission to help us all understand intersubjectivity.

She believes that when we say we want more interaction, we really mean that we want more intersubjectivity.

We had an interesting side conversation about courses that are built around discussion, and courses where the discussion is a small piece of the course. This is an area that I’d like to think about further…

She had a great slide with a stack of research about the lack of quality in discussion… My question though is about the differences in the type of knowledge being learned – i.e. undergraduate chemistry vs. a graduate level education course… some knowledge is better suited to socially constructed knowledge?

We got into another great side conversation on questions that ask for a “right answer” vs. “multiple perspectives”. Low level Bloom’s taxonomy aren’t good for discussions.


Solitary puzzle pieces, passing the conversation back and forth, but not building anything new


Interlocking puzzle pieces – they are connected to each other – something new is built

“the representation of knowledge construction achieved through a synergistic progression from individual contributions to sequences of interdependent contributions” Hall 2011

Facilitating for Intersubjectivity

  • It’s the format of the discussion question
  • It’s also how the discussion is facilitated
  • Summarizing at the end of the discussion – how has your learning changed based on what you heard from your classmates during that week
  • You need time for these type of connections to develop
  • Facilitator needs to refer back to other students and other posts from previous weeks and different students – i.e. Joe said… and Linda said… and how do those two connect?
  • Repeating the other person’s name so you know whose idea you are building from; using names is critical
  • Facilitator needs to MODEL intersubjectivity

Interesting Side Conversations

  • The medium: threaded discussion vs. blogs vs. VoiceThread
  • The issue with texting type writing in the discussion board; teaching academic writing; someone shared that there is research on the language of discourse vs. the language of intimacy. Teach students to use the language of discourse, use APA in the discussion area, etc.
  • References I shared with Barb to connect to her work: the Listening Taxonomy and More Than Words papers from AERA that I blogged here.

When Might Interaction Be Sufficient

When is it less critical for intersubjectivity and interaction might be sufficient?

  • When consensus isn’t necessary or isn’t the goal
  • When time is short
  • With lower order thinking skills: applying, understanding, remembering (side note that applying can easily jump to creating with a little tweaking)


Finally she suggests that threaded discussions are social constructionism because the threaded discussion is actually an artifact (Papert).

Graphical Representation

To close, each participant used the items supplied in a bag to make an illustration of the concept of intersubjectivity.

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