Online collaboration skills in business
education: a politeness theory perspective
Terry O’Sullivan
5th June 2013
Overview
• Online collaboration as a ‘future skill’
• Politeness theory (Brown and Levinson, 1987) as a
framework for understanding online collaboration skills
• Case study of an online collaborative learning activity
• Pointers to how we understand skills development and
relevance
‘Future skills’
• Sense-Making
• Social Intelligence
• Novel and Adaptive
Thinking
• Cross-Cultural
Competency
• Computational Thinking
•
•
•
•
New Media Literacy
Transdisciplinarity
Design Mindset
Cognitive Load
Management
• Virtual Collaboration
(Davies, Fidler, et al., 2011)
Skills: tools or responses?
Skills:
development or emergence?
Politeness theory
• Language: content and relationship function
– Technical emphasis on content function (e.g. Grice,
1967: quantity, quality, relevance and manner)
• Relationship function directed at maintaining ‘face’: ‘an
image of self delineated in terms of approved social
attributes’ (Goffman, 1967)
• Positive and negative face (Brown and Levinson, 1987)
Lesser
estimated
risk of
face loss
1.
‘Baldly on record’ – ie
without redressive action
On record
With
redressive
action
Do the FTA
2.
Positive
politeness
3.
Negative
politeness
4.
Off record
5.
Don’t do
the FTA
Greater
estimated
risk of
face loss
Fig. 1: Five strategies with regard to face-threatening actions (FTA).
Adapted from Brown and Levinson (1987), p. 60
Web 2.0 and face
•
•
•
•
•
Silence: lurking
Off record: indirectness or back channel
Negative politeness: concern for consensus
Positive politeness: self-presentation, including non-verbal
Baldly on record: from directness to flaming
Online collaborative learning activity
•
•
•
•
•
Formatively-assessed group work
Case study analysis and report writing and editing
Moodle forum and wiki
Negative face work in leading and managing task
Positive face work in establishing identity as collaborator
Pointers to skills development
• Adapting real-world and prior skills to online context
• Facilitating emergence rather than skills transfer
• Supporting soft ‘relationship’ skills as much as, if not
more than, hard ‘technical’ skills
• Acknowledging risk to face as a source of learning rather
than an obstacle to learning
‘Future skills’
• Sense-Making
• Social Intelligence
• Novel and Adaptive
Thinking
• Cross-Cultural
Competency
• Computational Thinking
•
•
•
•
New Media Literacy
Transdisciplinarity
Design Mindset
Cognitive Load
Management
• Virtual Collaboration
(Davies, Fidler, et al., 2011)
Faculty of Business and Law
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA
www.open.ac.uk
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Online collaboration skills in business education: a