Using Qualitative Processes in Computer Technology Research on Online Learning: Lessons in Change from "Teaching as Intentional Learning"


  • Connie M. Moss Duquesne University
  • Gary Shank Duquesne University



computer-mediated communication, online learning environment, mulitlogue, orality and literacy, situated cognition, semiotics, instructional design


The use of computer mediated interaction systems worldwide has created not only a culture of usage, but also an entirely new mode of social interaction and thought. We argue that computer mediated interaction should be understood as neither oral nor written language, but rather as a post literate technological change of language itself. Following SHANK's (1993) notion of the multilogue as a form of communication, and ONG's (1982) pioneering work on examining orality and literacy in light of emerging understandings toward communication in these more technologically sophisticated times, we propose that systems of computer mediated interactions, especially those used for educational purposes, can only be understood using the combination of the logic and tools of qualitative research along with a semiotic understanding of the process itself. To explore these claims, the article examines computer mediated interaction within an educational online environment known as Teaching as Intentional Learning, or TIL (MOSS, 1998). Extensive use of patterns of data from TIL demonstrates that fundamental qualitative procedures are required to capture critical changes in teacher beliefs over time. These procedures align with notions of post literate communication, and the realization that both the modes of communication and the qualitative procedures used to capture them, are required to understand computer mediated learning and to build better modes for such interactions in the future. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0202218


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Author Biographies

Connie M. Moss, Duquesne University

Connie M. MOSS is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Duquesne University. She co-directs the Center for Advancing the Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and is the director and primary architect of the Teaching as Intentional Learning (TIL) Program—an online community of practice that supports systematic and intentional inquiry into the teaching-learning process. Her publications to date have investigated teacher beliefs, online learning environments, and teachers as scholars of their practice.

Gary Shank, Duquesne University

Gary SHANK is an Associate Professor of educational research in the School of Education at Duquesne University. He has recently published a qualitative textbook for Prentice-Hall (SHANK, 2002). He has written extensively on semiotics, the impact of semiotics on computer-mediated communication and semiotics in education. Dr. Shank is also a resource specialist for TIL.




How to Cite

Moss, C. M., & Shank, G. (2002). Using Qualitative Processes in Computer Technology Research on Online Learning: Lessons in Change from "Teaching as Intentional Learning". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(2).