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To Be Feared or Fostered? Conflict Talk in the Online Classroom

Dr. Debora Scheffel (Colorado Christian University, USA)
Additional Authors
Dorothy Della Noce (Walden University, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 11:45am
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Asia 4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 11
Virtual Session

The role of conflict talk in fostering student learning on online discussion forums is examined through a comprehensive review of the literature and group discussion.

Extended Abstract

The constructivist argument for the quality of learning on online discussion forums has long emphasized the value of conflict talk among students (including argument, negotiation, disagreement, debate, and constructive controversy) for fostering learning. Conflict talk has also been discussed as a positive factor for community building and collaboration in the classroom. These positive assessments of conflict talk for online learning have support from both the conflict literature and the face-to-face classroom literature, especially given the recognized role of conflict talk in meaning-making and relational development. But is the promise of conflict talk being realized in the online classroom?

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:
- Conceptualize and operationalize conflict talk in the online classroom
- Articulate the value of conflict talk for online learning
- Evaluate the state of the empirical literature on conflict talk in the online classroom
- Apply key concepts to instructional design, instructional strategies, faculty development, and creation of a research agenda

This presentation will begin with a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, and in particular, the research evidence that has accumulated regarding how conflict talk is conceptualized, operationalized, measured, and engaged in online discussion forums.

Two formulations of conflict talk will be presented: conflict talk that is an intentional part of the instructional design of an online classroom and conflict talk that emerges organically through classroom discussion. Then, the following questions will be examined:

- How is conflict talk conceptualized?
- How is conflict talk operationalized?
- What research methods have been applied to examining conflict talk?
- How do instructors respond to conflict talk between or among students?
- How do students respond to conflict talk between or among themselves?
- What are the observed effects of conflict talk in the classroom?
- What assumptions about the nature of conflict talk are revealed in the research?
- Should conflict talk be fostered in the classroom?
- What are the barriers to fostering conflict talk in the online classroom?
- What activities foster conflict talk in the online classroom?
- What skills do faculty need in order to use conflict talk productively in their classrooms?

This session will be of interest to instructional faculty and instructional designers at all institutional levels.

Participants will engage in group discussion that focuses on the practical implications of the findings for instructional design, instructional strategies, and faculty development, as well as implications for a research agenda. Question and answer time will be provided.

Lead Presenter

Dr. Debora Scheffel was appointed in October, 2013, as Dean of the School of Education, Colorado Christian University. Previous to her appointment at Colorado Christian University, she was Dean of Research at University of the Rockies and Dean of the School of Education at Jones International University. Previously, she held a tenured professorship at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, served as the Director of Competitive Grants and Awards/Literacy Grants and Initiatives at the Colorado Department of Education, and served as special assistant to the Colorado Commissioner of Education in literacy.

Dr. Scheffel has an extensive background in assessment, serving as the Director of Academic Assessment at two universities, and has been a visiting scholar at the United States Air Force Academy in assessment. Her academic background is in communication sciences and disorders and special education with research interests in reading and oral language development and disabilities in children, and education reform policy. She has served as a consultant in school reform efforts related to literacy with Side by Side, since 2012.

Debora has worked in six states in a variety of post-secondary educational contexts, and is a published author in literacy, special education, and higher education assessment. Her professional affiliations include the International Neuropsychological Society, the International Dyslexia Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children. She was elected to the Colorado State Board of Education in November, 2010, representing the 6th Congressional District. She serves on the editorial boards of Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Debora enjoys water and snow sports, church involvement, and spending time with family members, most of whom reside in Colorado.

- See more at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeboard/Debora_Scheffel.htm#sthash.gzjSocG2.dpuf