A critical discourse analysis of students' anonymous online postings

Journal Article


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Journal Title

International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education

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Volume Title

IGI Global


University of Cape Town

It is difficult to understand students’ social practices from artifacts of anonymous online postings. The analysis of text genres and discursive types of online postings has potential for enhancing teaching and learning experiences of students. This article focuses on analysis of students’ anonymous online postings using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The article argues that social practices reproduce during online interaction and artifacts embody such reproduction. A study involving more than 300 commerce students at a higher education institution (HEI) using a special purpose anonymous online consultation tool, the Dynamic Frequently Asked Questions (DFAQ), and social practices embodied in the artifacts is analyzed using CDA. The analysis used the three dimensions of CDA—description (text genres), interpretation (discursive type), and explanation (social practice)—and insights into students’ social practices were inferred. The article concludes that CDA of anonymous postings provided insight into social practices of students and, in particular, highlighted the tension between perceptions of inflexibility of traditional teaching practices and student demands for flexible learning. Finally, CDA, as described in this article, could be useful in analyzing e-mail communications, short message service (SMS) interactions, Web blogs, and podcasts.