SOUSSI_Thursday - UNI

Student’s Lurking in Telecollaborative
Projects and the Development of
Intercultural Communicative
Houssine SOUSSI
FLHS University Moulay Ismail Meknes (Morocco)
International Conference
Telecollaboration in University Foreign Language Education
University of León, Spain
13 February 2014
Introduction and Background.
What is Lurking?
Research on lurking.
Research methods: participants, data collection
methods, data analysis.
• Findings.
Introduction and Background
This study investigates the concept of
online lurking and its impact on the
development of students’ intercultural
communicative competence (ICC) in the
context of telecollaboration.
… it is part of an ongoing Ph.D research
that investigates the impact of online
language use on students’ ICC.
What is Lurking?
Two contrasting perspectives:
Negative connotation
Positive connotation
… a pejorative definition
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (MerriamWebster, 2013) provides a pejorative definition
for the term, lurk:
To be in a hidden place : to wait in a secret or
hidden place especially in order to do
something wrong or harmful
1. to lie in wait in a place of concealment
especially for an evil purpose
2. to move furtively or inconspicuously
3. to persist in staying
4. to be concealed but capable of being
discovered; and specifically to constitute a
latent threat.
… Lurkers as Free-riders
Online lurkers may be perceived as freeriders or free-loaders, who benefit from an
online community’s wisdom without giving
anything back (Preece, Nonnecke, & Andrews
(2004); Kollock and Smith (1996)).
Positive definition
The online Jargon Dictionary defines the
term, lurker, as:
“One of the ‘silent majority’ in an electronic
forum; one who posts occasionally or not at
all but is known to read the group's postings
This term is not pejorative and indeed is
casually used reflexively:
“Oh, I’m just lurking.”
When a lurker speaks up for the first
time, this is called ‘de-lurking’.
In this study…
A lurker is a participant who reads
postings persistently but never posts. This
definition specifically excludes users who
just visit the community once and then
never show up again.
The Extent of Lurking!
Lurkers are reported to make up over
90% of several online groups (Katz,
1998; Mason, 1999; Nonnecke et al.,
The 90-9-1 principle
There is a formula in online communities called the
90-9-1 principle.
It refers to the estimate that 1 percent of any online
community creates or contributes content in the
community (active contributors), 9 percent respond or
show some activity in the community (active lurkers),
and the remaining 90 percent just watch without
participating (lurkers).
Research on lurking.
From reviewing the literature, it is apparent that
lurking and lurkers in online groups have not been
studied extensively.
In most of studies of online communities, the primary
source of information was participants who actively
conversed in the discussion groups or other online
forums, and who were therefore readily observable.
Previous research has mainly studied
1.The reasons of lurking
2.Sociodemographics of Lurking
1. Motives of lurking…
Nonnecke (2000) and Nonnecke and Preece (2001)
conducted interviews with virtual communities’ users
to understand the reasons for lurking. They proposed
the “gratification model” whose underlying
assumption is that needs can be met through lurking
and that lurking may be the preferred public method
of interacting with the group.
The gratification model showing lurkers needs and the
most mentioned reasons for lurking. Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (2001).
“a sense of belonging to a community”
Another important reason of lurking reported by
Beadouin and Velkovska (1999) is the
development of a sense of belonging to a
community. This means that while watching other
people talk and getting familiar with the content
and style of the community people feel that they
belong to the community.
“A transition strategy”
Whittaker et al. (1998) suggests that the activities
of lurkers are a legitimate form of participation,
and a background involvement that can be
beneficial. They support this position by citing
Kraut (1997) and others, who see this as an
important transition mechanism for novices to
learn about a novel topic or social milieu.
2. Sociodemographics of Lurking
Zlatko J Kovacic (2004) studied the relationship between
student participation in an online discussion forum and
various sociodemographics in New Zealand. The level of
participation was measured using two indicators: the
number of postings and lurking level.
His major finding is that age and ethnicity are the most
dominant factors with significant impact on the number
of postings, lurking level and the course marks.
“Gender, age and ethnicity”
• It’s difficult to summarize the influence of gender
difference on online participation, but females in general
tend to be more active in the forum posting on average
66% more messages than their male counterparts.
• The lurking level is significantly lower among female
• Older students are more active in the forum and achieve
better marks.
• NZ European learners participated more actively than
Asian or Maori learners.
Participants and Research design
For this research project, a group of Moroccan 38 (graduate and
undergraduate) EFL learners from the University of Marrakech on
the one hand and 26 American graduate students from the TESOL
department at emporia State University, Kansas (USA) on the
other hand, were involved in an online intercultural exchange in
an interactive Word-press blog for a period of eight weeks
starting from mid-February and ending mid-April 2013. The
participants included both genders, with an age range of 21 to 57
Method of the empirical survey
Despite all the activities to encourage engagement during the first
week of the exchange, only eleven students out of the 64
participants (17.1%), engaged with the discussion, with each of
these eleven students only posting twice each.
To gain a better understanding of the low level of students’ active
engagement at the beginning of the online exchange, in spite of an
important passive activity, students were asked to fill an online
questionnaire about their passive online activities in the project, the
reasons behind these activities and their perceived usefulness related
to intercultural learning.
The survey questionnaire
The questionnaire was developed to identify the nature and level of
students’ passive participation and then to measure their attitudes in
relation to intercultural learning.
Mainly fixed alternative responses (multiple choice and Likert scales)
were used to measure respondents’ participation and attitudes before
and after the active participation in the project (after de-lurking).
An open-ended question was included to give respondents an
opportunity to contribute additional insights from their experiences.
To maximise response, the questionnaire was conducted over the
internet (via google docs).
Individual interviews
In order to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, the
survey questionnaire was followed by personal F2F interviews
with the Moroccan participants and online interviews with the
American participants.
The online interviews were conducted via skype, and were
recorded and transcribed for analyses.
Results and Findings
A total of 51 valid questionnaires were collected, reaching a response
rate of 79,6%.
And a total of 24 interviews were conducted (16 in F2F and 8 online)
Interview conducted
Figure 1: Percentage values based on 51 questionnaire received and 24 interviews conducted
Results and Findings
The statistical analysis provided some important exploratory and
initial findings. The analytical option applied to data derived from the
received questionnaires was mainly “Student’s T-test”.
The T-test assesses whether the means scores at the beginning are
statistically different from that of the end of the experience.
Mean scores at the end of the project are definitely higher in all ICC
components surveyed ( attitudes, knowledge, and skills).
There is a statistically positive correlation between ICC components
metric and the number of user postings after de-lurking.
This suggests that the more a participant learn about the other
culture, the more chances he had to become an active participant.
Results and Findings
Figure 2. Contrastive Mean of ICC components Scores at Beginning of the project and after de-lurking
Qualitative inquiry
The open-ended questions and the interviews were analysed
manually to provide a qualitative view of the respondents’ attitudes
during the project. These questions were mainly asked during the
1. When and why have you started to actively participate in the
online intercultural exchange?
2. What impact did passive participation in the exchange have in
your intercultural learning?
3. What abilities do you think are important towards intercultural
4. To what extent did you develop these abilities? Why or why not?
Qualitative comments
All participants indicated they progressed and developed in each ICC
component during the online intercultural exchange (as passive
participants and then as active contributors).
Of those who gave qualitative comments, 95.2% of respondents were
positive and only 4.8% were negative.
Thus, the participants were generally positive about the online
intercultural exchange.
Of the positive comments, the majority were general views about the
exchange being beneficial and helpful in learning the other culture.
The main positive responses were summarised in the following:
In relation to lurking:
Lurking is often a prelude to more active participation in the
community (socialisation into cultural habits and norms of the group
by interacting passively).
They lurked because reflection is their learning style.
Lurking equals thinking critically about what they are reading.
They feel they have to add something very polished and well
researched and never get round to it (to avoid (inter)cultural clashes).
They consider lurking as a “legitimate peripheral participation”
which leads eventually to central participation, as they gradually
assimilates the culture of the participants.
In relation to ICC
Participants learned more about others, their language and their
culture, about the world, and about themselves.
They developed new skills, knowledge, positive attitudes, and
intercultural awareness.
They feel themselves more open minded, they can now approach
people from a different culture more easily, they accept that other
cultures are different and function differently.
People may be different even inside the same culture.
This study has tended to make some contributions to the knowledge
about lurkers in telecollaborative projects.
It has sought to find out the relationship between passive
participation (lurking) in online collaborative projects and the
development of ICC.
From the statistical analysis it can be seen that the more a
participant learn about the other culture, the more chances he had to
de-lurk or to become an active participant.
Thank you
Houssine SOUSSI
[email protected]