discussion network visualization

I just put together some quick network maps for the online discussions from my thesis research data. Haven’t done any analysis – just some purty pictures to see any at-a-glance differences:

Both discussion platforms had about the same number of posts and responses, but the pattern of connections is markedly different for some reason…

aggregated metadata for online discussions

here’s a quick look at the aggregated metadata for all of the online discussions I’m using in my thesis:

About the same number of posts in each platform, with a bit more of a time-spread in the WordPress discussions, substantially longer posts in WordPress, about the same (non) use of images, more links in WordPress posts, and more attachments in Blackboard posts.

basic metadata analysis

Here’s a quick pass at analyzing the basic metadata for the online discussions.

I plotted a few calculated values (Excel pivot tables fracking ROCK, BTW…), to try to compare activity patterns. What’s interesting in this graph is the average wordcount (green line) – low for the Blackboard discussion board threads (the left 5 items) and markedly higher for the 8 student blog (the right 8 items).

The number of posts in each discussion (dark blue line) is relatively consistent across all discussions. Slightly lower for the WordPress blog sites, but not dramatically so.

Also interesting is the red line – standard deviation of the “day of course” for posts. It’s a rough estimate at how rapidly posts occur – a low standard deviation indicates the posts occurred relatively close together on the calendar. A high value indicates the posts occurred over a longer spread of days. This suggests that Blackboard posts were added in brief, rapid bursts, while the WordPress posts and comments were posted over longer durations. People kept coming back to blog posts long after they were started. Interesting. There could be a number of reasons for this – it’s easier to see Bb discussion boards all in one place – and easier to forget to check various blogs for activity, etc… Or, do they just reflect more, and more deeply on blogs? Interesting… I’d love to find out the reasons behind the different values…

So… The WordPress discussions occurred over longer periods, using slightly fewer posts/responses, but with dramatically longer posts than was seen in the Blackboard discussions…

full online discussion metadata visualization

I’ve finally entered all of the metadata information for the online discussions I’m using in my thesis. This includes the person who posts something, the date, and the size of the post. I worked through my earlier visualization mockup, and wanted to try it with the full set of data. So, here’s the Blackboard discussions (top image) and WordPress blog posts (bottom image):

It’s only the most basic of metadata, but already differences in activity patterns are becoming apparent. Both images are on the same time- and size- scales. The WordPress discussions appear to be using significantly longer posts and comments, spread over much more time. Blackboard discussions appear to be shorter posts, over briefer durations.

Next up, I get to code each post for Community of Inquiry model “presences” – as described by indicators for social, cognitive and teaching contributions in the posts. I’ll figure out some way to overlay that information on top of the basic metadata visualization.