A method for the analysis of inter-action in an online learning community

Maria Antonietta IMPEDOVO, Maria Beatrice LIGORIO, Hau Fai Edmond LAW

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


In this paper we propose an innovative method, called Inter-Actions Network Analysis, to analyze discussions occurring via web-forums. The method has been tested on a blended university course about “Educational Psychology and E-Learning”. The theoretical background combines Activity Theory and Speech Analysis Theory. The method is composed by three steps through which a mix of qualitative discourse, content analysis, and quantitative analysis is performed. The first step provides a segmentation of notes in speech actions and the identification of the categories and sub-categories designed according to the Activity Theory, so to finalize a grid. In the second step the grid is applied and elicited and eliciting communicative actions are organized into a matrix. Finally, the third step investigates the network of the communicative actions through the Social Network Analysis. The method has been tested on a corpus of data consists of 72 notes posted by ten university students. This type of analysis allows deep understanding of the dynamic and the structure of the discussion and allows teachers and tutors to monitor and direct the discussion toward the predefined goals. Copyright © 2012 Progedit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-59
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Impedovo, M. A., Ligorio, M. B. & Law, E. H. F. (2012). A method for the analysis of inter-action in an online learning community. Qwerty, 7(2), 39-59.


  • Online interaction
  • Knowledge building
  • Innovative methods
  • Activity theory
  • Social network analysis


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