Exploring creative thinking in graphically mediated synchronous dialogues
McLaren, Bruce M.
Computers and Education
This paper reports on an aspect of the EC funded Argunaut project which researched and developed awareness tools for moderators of online dialogues. In this study we report on an investigation into the nature of creative thinking in online dialogues and whether or not this creative thinking can be coded for and recognized automatically such that moderators can be alerted when creative thinking is occurring or when it has not occurred after a period of time. We outline a dialogic theory of creativity, as the emergence of new perspectives from the interplay of voices, and the testing of this theory using a range of methods including a coding scheme which combined coding for creative thinking with more established codes for critical thinking, artificial intelligence pattern-matching techniques to see if our codes could be read automatically from maps and ‘key event recall’ interviews to explore the experience of participants. Our findings are that: (1) the emergence of new perspectives in a graphical dialogue map can be recognized by our coding scheme supported by a machine pattern-matching algorithm in a way that can be used to provide awareness indicators for moderators; (2) that the trigger events leading to the emergence of new perspectives in the online dialogues studied were most commonly disagreements and (3) the spatial representation of messages in a graphically mediated synchronous dialogue environment such as Digalo may offer more affordance for creativity than the much more common scrolling text chat environments. All these findings support the usefulness of our new account of creativity in online dialogues based on dialogic theory and demonstrate that this account can be operationalised through machine coding in a way that can be turned into alerts for moderators.
Vol. 54, Issue 3, pp. 613 - 621