From the Chat Room To the Voting Booth: The Potential of Using Online Discussion Forums to Develop Civic Skills

Fournier-Sylvester, N. (2014). From the chat room to the voting booth: The potential of using online discussion forums to develop civic skills. Citizenship Education Research Network.


Since the 1990s globally networked learning environments (GNLEs) have emerged as pathways for dialogue between students from around the world. Although it was initially hoped that bringing diverse populations together online would naturally foster the inclusion of disparate voices and viewpoints, it is now widely acknowledged that online communications may just as easily reinforce pre-existing social arrangements as challenge them.  Grounded in the assumption that dialogue which is meant to serve civic and peace-building ends must acknowledge and work to transform inequalities, this article provides an overview of the theoretical and empirical literature on facilitated intergroup/intercultural online dialogue in educational contexts as well as the issues surrounding power and inclusivity in digital and dialogical settings. Recommendations emerging  from the literature regarding inclusive design features and the shifting parameters of what it means to be a teacher  in these contexts will also be addressed as well as transformative potential of GNLEs for intercultural communication and social justice education.