Networked Learning Conference 2010 
Home > Johnson


Logos for Lancaster University, Glasgow Caledonian, The Open University, Aalborg University

Anonymity in online discussion forums - does it promote connections?

Mike Johnson
Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom


This paper reports on a study of pre-registration undergraduate nursing and midwifery students' perceptions of the facility to post and read anonymous messages in closed-member University-hosted online forums. Two online focus groups and seven semi-structured interviews were conducted. Nine themes were identified, revealing wide contrasts between students' experience, understanding of and ability to use online anonymity. While the benefits of anonymity were accepted, most interviewees feared the clumsily-worded anonymous comments which so easily spark unpleasant exchanges. Allowing anonymity may open the forum up to these problems, especially considering, from a digital literacies perspective, that the students have such varied backgrounds. But allowing anonymity brings an online forum closer in resemblance to those outside university, i.e. which provided an authentic site for the more experienced students to gain their digital literacy. With clarity in the degree of anonymity, and sensitive moderation of errant messages, allowing the anonymous option could help less digitally experienced students catch up with their peers who cannot do without it.


Full Paper - .pdf




| About NLC | Welcome Messages| Acknowledgwments | Conference Proceedings| Keynote Speakers| Index of Presenting Authors| Contact |