7(3), August 1990, pages 23-39

Annotated Bibliography of Resources in Computer Networking

Mark Mabrito

The following bibliography lists resources for research in the area of computer networks as vehicles for communication. The purpose of this bibliography is to compile sources that present research findings, pedagogical approaches, and theoretical discussions related to applications of computer-mediated-communication (CMC) systems--electronic mail, computer conferences, or bulletin boards. The research presented here represents current approaches to studying CMC that span a variety of disciplines and research interests in both classroom and real-world settings.

The bibliography is divided into four sections that reflect recent research and pedagogical trends in CMC. The first section, CMC and Writing Instruction, focuses on various studies and pedagogical applications of networks as vehicles for sharing and responding to writing. Studies in this area have sought to examine how peer response and collaborative writing exercises conducted via CMC may differ from those conducted in the conventional (face-to-face) classroom. Findings here indicate that students tend to write and to respond to writing more often and more frequently via CMC, are better able to reach a group consensus, and often exhibit increased motivation and a greater sense of authority over their texts.

CMC Distance Education presents both academic and professional applications of CMC as a vehicle for teaching/learning among students, researchers, and business professionals in remote geographical locations. In an academic context, CMC systems are currently used as a primary or secondary vehicle for the delivery of courses that link together students from different schools, states, or even countries. Some recent attention has focused on distance education in the United States. As the following sources indicate, however, educators have placed much more emphasis on distance education in locations such as Canada, Great Britain, and various countries in western Europe. In these countries during the last decade or so, educators have established international networks that allow students from different parts of the world and different cultures to interact with one another via CMC. Although research in using international networks is new and somewhat tentative, the following articles do document successes in using these networks as a way to promote cultural exchange, increased understanding of cultural exchange, increased understanding of cultural differences, greater group participation, as well as increased problem-solving skills.

Similarly, CMC has greatly expanded the ability of members of various research communities and businesses to communicate with one another and thereby to exchange knowledge and resources, exchanges that once were limited to face-to-face conferences and professional journals.

The third section, Social and Psychological Influences of CMC, features studies conducted using a variety of research methodologies. These studies seek to examine through analyses of transcripts and surveys of users how CMC affects various aspects of communication, including the sending and receiving of feedback, group interaction, and degree of participation among group members. Those studies that compare CMC to face-to-face communication almost universally find increased instances of uninhibited behavior (as characterized by profanity, incessant rambling, etc.), increased interaction, and more equal levels of participation among members in CMC groups as compared to face-to-face groups. Additionally, research findings in this area also indicate that users of CMC, in some instances, initially may find it more difficult to adapt to communicating in this medium because of the lack of nonverbal communication cues (e.g., physical gestures, cues about physical appearance, authority, status, etc.) characteristic of face-to-face communication.

Finally, the Language of CMC focuses on several articles that offer insights into the medium itself. Authors in this section pose various theoretical explanations as to how the language of CMC differs from face-to-face communication, the similarities and differences between CMC "conversation" and writing, and the social implications of individuals communicating with one another electronically.

Although the following books and articles represent researchers from different fields examining CMC from a variety of perspectives, some common threads do exist throughout all the research: CMC tends to equalize participation of individuals within a group; CMC can be used as a viable substitute for face-to-face meetings/classes; users of CMC tend to respond favorably to the medium; and as the use of CMC systems becomes more widespread, more emphasis must be placed on teaching effective conferencing techniques to users and structuring conferences.

A search of three computer databases (ERIC, Psychological Abstracts, and ABI/INFORM) for the previous 15 years netted the following books and articles on computer-mediated communication. An attempt was made to exclude sources dealing with more technical matters of computer networking (e.g., detailed descriptions of system designs) or sources that, although they may have discussed computer networking, did not specifically address the issue of computer networking as a vehicle for communication among users of the system.

CMC and Writing Instruction

Barrett, E., & Paradis, J. (1988). Teaching writing in an on-line classroom. Harvard Educational Review, 58, 154-171.

Describes an experimental writing course using electronic networks for on-line classroom writing instruction. Authors discuss the problems, challenges, and results of an "electronic" writing course.

Boothby, W. S. (1988). The influence of computer-mediated writing conferences on revision: Case studies of college students (Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, 1988). Dissertation Abstracts International, 48, 2566A.

Presents two case studies of a graduate and an undergraduate student and investigates the influence of computer-mediated (electronic mail) writing conferences with both peers and the teacher on these students' revisions. Finds that the largest revisions are associated with repetitive feedback on the same textual problems and that both students make their largest "meaning-changing' revisions based on comments received via the computer.

Eldred, J. (1989). Computers, composition pedagogy, and the social view. In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Critical perspectives on computers and composition instruction (pp. 201-218). New York: Teachers College Press.

Examines social theories and practices and suggests how microcomputers can be used to complement social theory and pedagogy. Places particular emphasis on computer networking as a vehicle for teaching about and sharing writing.

Jennings, E. M. (1987). Paperless writing: Boundary conditions and their implications. In L. Gerrard (Ed.), Writing at century's end: Essays on computer-assisted composition (pp. 11-20). New York: Random House.

Describes an advanced writing course taught using a central computer, time-sharing terminals, and an electronic bulletin board. Author finds that students in this "electronic class" are able to write for an expanded audience and that authority and responsibility for texts shifts away from the instructor and rests more with individual students.

Kinkead, J. (1987). Computer conversations: E-mail and writing instruction. College Composition and Communication, 38, 337-341.

Describes the different kinds of writing that students engage in while communicating via a writing-center network. Author argues that writing via a network promotes good writing and increased motivation on the part of the student.

Kinkead, J. (1988). Wired: Computer networks in the English classroom. English Journal, 77, 39-41.

Describes several ways by which collaborative writing projects can be integrated in the curriculum using electronic mail and stresses that collaborative writing can be more effective via electronic mail because the barriers of time and distance are eliminated.

Kremers, M., & Haile, P. (1986). Teaching writing by interdisciplinary computer conference. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 15, 213-219.

Describes a computer conference (PARTICIPATE) at New York Institute of Technology designed to link together a writing instructor and psychology instructor with students writing research papers in psychology. Finds that, although students quickly learn to use the conferencing system, students do not "converse" very frequently on the system, an indication that careful planning and structuring of a computer conference may be necessary to encourage greater levels of participation.

Marcus, S. (1987). Computers and English: Future tense . . . future perfect. English Journal, 76, 88-90.

First of a two-part series that examines the impact of changing technology on English instruction. A brief section is devoted to teacher-monitored networks in electronic writing labs. Other issues related to computer-assisted instruction include computer-generated texts, interactive reading-writing software, style checkers, and desktop publishing.

Payne, D. (1987). Computer-extended audiences for student writers: Some theoretical and practical implications. In L. Gerrard (Ed.), Writing at century's end: Essays on computer-assisted composition (pp. 21-26). New York: Random House.

A network is used to link sophomore-level high school students with senior secondary-education majors at a university. High school students wrote paragraphs that were then sent to and commented on by the university students. Researcher finds that the high school students, when writing on the network, spend a longer time writing and write longer papers than they do when writing in the classroom.

Schriner, D. K., & Rice, W. C. (1989). Computer conferencing and collaborative learning: A discourse community at work. College Composition and Communication, 40, 472-478.

Describes a study at The University of Michigan that integrated CONFER--a computer conference system--into 15 sections of Introductory Composition. Initial findings indicate that students using this system wrote more and more often than they did in traditional settings. In addition, students are more willing to express their individual voices, to consider alternate viewpoints, and better able to reach a group consensus.

Schwartz, H. J. (1984). SEEN: A tutorial and user network for hypothesis testing. In W. Wresch (Ed.), The Computer in Composition Instruction (pp. 47-62). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Describes a computer program, SEEN, that functions as a tutorial and as a network for students to respond to other students' "hypotheses" about a literary work. Students entered their ideas or "hypotheses" about a literary work into the network; these hypotheses were, in turn, saved and displayed by the network for other students to read and to comment on.

Skubikowski, K., & Elder, J. (1987). Word processing in a community of writers. College Composition and Communication, 38, 198-201.

Describes a first-year writing course in which microcomputers linked to a mainframe were used to group students in three class sections. Students in these response groups responded to drafts-in-progress and offered suggestions for developing ideas. Researchers find that students produce a large amount of writing are willing to share personal thoughts with group members, and collectively develop and share a repertoire of writing strategies.

Stroble, E. J. (1988). A look at writer's comments shared on computer screens: Can electronic mail facilitate peer group response. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 297 723)

Study compares students' responses to drafts in progress offered face-to-face and via electronic mail. Comparisons are made on the number, tone, and content of writers' comments; writers' reasons for revision; quality of final texts; and writers' preference for a mode of communication. Results reveal that, although writers received equal numbers of comments in both modes, in electronic mail writers received greater numbers of positive comments addressing specific, substantive features of text. The study concludes that electronic mail may function better as a complement to, rather than a substitute for, face-to-face peer groups.

CMC and Distance Education

Academic Applications

Bitzer, D. L. (1986). The PLATO project at the University of Illinois. Engineering Education, 77, 175-180.

Describes one of the first computer-network systems used in education, PLATO, developed at the University of Illinois. Traces the origin, development, and current status of the system. Describes the three types of dialogues that PLATO offers--mail, electronic bulletin boards, and open conferences.

Cohen, M., & Miyake, N. (1986). A worldwide intercultural network exploring electronic messaging for instruction. Instructional Science, 15, 257-273.

Describes the Intercultural Learning Network (ILN), an international computer network used to assist students from different cultures at the secondary and college level in working together on various educational projects. The economic and technical feasibility of a worldwide intercultural network, some of the difficulties associated with developing ILN, and sample learning activities and assignments used on the network are discussed.

Cummins, J. (1988). From the inner city to the global village: The microcomputer as a catalyst for collaborative learning and cultural interchange. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 1, 1-13.

Argues that the microcomputer has the potential for "genuinely communicative language education" if used in conjunction with international communication networks. Describes some available international networks and shows through student-writing samples how teaching/learning via a network promotes literacy development, cultural exchange and reinforcement, artistic expression, computer literacy, and international education co-operation.

Davies, D. (1988). Computer-supported co-operative learning systems: Interactive group technologies and open learning. Programmed Learning and Educational Technology, 25, 205-215.

Examines computer-mediated communication systems as an example of computer-supported co-operative learning. Describes the problems created by the mix of computer networks and constrained communication and offers techniques for designing computer-supported co-operative learning environments.

Field, C. (1987). Earn credits on-line. InCider, 5, 87-88.

Provides a description of a computer network designed to allow students to take courses from colleges and universities all around the United States. Provides registration procedures and a description of courses.

Hart, R. (1987). Towards a third generation distributed conferring system. Canadian Journal of Educational Communication, 16, 137-152.

Describes the first of the RAPPI projects, an ongoing series of international projects linking 75 schools (grades 2-12) in Canada and western Europe in an electronic network. Initial evaluations reveal that more emphasis must be placed on teaching people to make effective use of hardware/software (teachware) for the system to be a successful tool for teaching/learning.

Hiltz, S. R. (1986). The "virtual classroom": Using computer-mediated communication for university teaching. Journal of Communication, 36,95-104.

Describes a long-term computer conference project designed to act as a supplement to traditional classes and as a primary mode of course delivery for university teaching. Surveys administered to participating students reveal that they felt the network was more convenient to gain access to, yet more awkward to communicate with, than face-to-face instruction because of the lack of nonverbal cues

Kaye, T. (1987). Introducing computer-mediated communication into a distance education system. Canadian Journal of Educational Communication, 16, 153-166.

Describes some early trials of electronic mail and computer conferencing in distance education courses at British Open University. Provides descriptions of two courses taught on MAIL MANAGER, an electronic-mail system, and the role of tutors as conference moderators.

Levin, J. A., Riel, M., Miyake, N., & Cohen, M. (1987). Education on the electronic frontier: Teleapprentices in globally distributed educational contexts. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 12, 254-260.

Further description of the ILN (see Cohen & Miyake, 1986, above) is provided. Authors provide examples of students from different countries communicating with each other to solve a hypothetical problem of water shortage. They argue that communicating via the network increased students' problem-solving skills.

Pear, J. J., & Kinsner, W. (1988). Computer-aided personalized system of instruction: An effective and economical method for short- and long-distance education. Machine-Mediated Learning, 2, 213-237.

Describes a computer program based on Keller's Personalized System of Instruction that is used for the teaching of on-campus and off-campus courses at the University of Manitoba. Provides descriptions of the electronic mail system, student attitudes, costs, examples of students' work from the course, and directions for further research.

Phillips, G. M., & Santoro, G. M. (1989). Teaching group discussion via computer-mediated communication. Communication Education, 38, 151-161.

Describes a group discussion course offered to 500 students at Pennsylvania State University designed to operate via an electronic mail system and bulletin board. Researchers find that the "asynchronous" nature of the system is a benefit to both instructors and students, allowing them to work at their convenience and transfer questions and answers rapidly. Other advantages include easy storage and retrieval of messages, more equal group participation, and the ability for researchers to quickly gather data about group operations.

Schwartz, J. (1987). Using an electronic network to create a read context for high school writing. Narrative report for the National Council of Teachers of English. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 291 105)

Modems and electronic mail are used to link three high school classes located in different geographical areas of the United States. Students from different cultural backgrounds write notes, letters, stories, drafts, etc., to each other and adjust to the rhetorical situation depending on the reader, the tone, and the form of writing. Study concludes that writing via electronic mail provided a wider range of audiences for students and thus makes them more aware of writing for different audiences and more sensitive to cultural differences.

Vicki, V. (1986). Electronic mail in a children's distance course: Trial and evaluation. Distance Education, 7, 237-260.

Describes and evaluates a project that used electronic mail to teach geographically isolated elementary-level home students in nine different Australian cities. Discusses problems with equipment and reasons for a successful outcome, and provides sample student materials.

Professional Applications

Galati, T. (1986). Electronic communication: Implications for training. Training and Development Journal, 40, 42-45.

Author argues that, as computer conferencing and electronic mail become more widely used, professionals must be trained in the skills necessary to communicate in these media, training that must take into account language change, resistance on the part of upper-level management, and the restructuring of jobs.

Kerr, E. B. (1986). Electronic leadership: A guide to moderating on-line conferences. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, 29, 12-18.

Describes suggested effective leadership styles and skills necessary for moderating on-line meetings and facilitating electronic groups. Presents an analysis of the structures, processes, tasks, and roles, in addition to suggested problem-solving techniques and ways of encouraging participation.

Pfaffenberger, B. (1986). Research networks, scientific communication, and the personal computer. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, 29, 30-33.

Argues that electronic mail, bulletin boards, and computer conferencing are able to integrate research networks--i.e., informal organizations of faculty who share an interest in a research area. In addition to their low cost and flexibility, computer networks have the potential to "democratize" research networks because they obliterate social barriers and status distinctions; therefore, they do not exclude young faculty and researchers at low-prestige universities.

Pullinger, D. J. (1986). Chit-chat to electronic journals: Computer conferencing supports scientific communication. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, 29, 23-29.

Provides a summary of studies related to the British Library's 1980-1985 computer-conferencing experimental program. Participants use the system for a variety of purposes including leaving messages, accessing journals, and conducting conferences. Provides a description of the system and the results of how patterns of access affect expectations of and responses to the quantity of material received.

Pyle, I. C. (1985). Uses for computer conferencing. Data Processing, 27, 30-33.

Provides a basic description of how computer conferences operate and examines two specific computer conferences: COM--a computer conference operating in Sweden, and Notepad--a conference chosen for study by the British Library Blend project.

Saunders, C. S., & Heyl, J. E. (1988). Evaluating educational computer conferencing. Journal of Systems Management, 39, 33-37.

Suggests that few companies have taken advantage of the educational opportunities afforded by computer conferencing. Some of these opportunities include class participation by students in re mote areas, increased overall participation because strong personalities cannot dominate on a conference system, better-developed discussions, and increased student/teacher interaction. Disadvantages of computer conferences include no audio communication, frustration caused by unanswered questions, and feelings of isolation on the part of participants.

Social And Psychological Influences of CMC

Crowston, K., Malone, T. W., & Lin, F. (1987). Cognitive science and organizational design: A case study of computer conferencing. Human-Computer Interaction, 3, 59-85.

Provides a detailed perspective for investigating the link between technology and organizational structure based on concepts from artificial intelligence. Information processing in organizations is characterized by the way people exchange and process messages. Study suggests a new approach to information processing through the analysis of a case, one in which the introduction of a computer conference is coupled with a reduction in levels of management.

Eklundh, K. S. (1987). Explicit and implicit feedback in computer-mediated communication. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 14, 147-153.

Analyzes different kinds of feedback according to their role and function in computer-mediated dialogue. Examines explicit and implicit feedback with respect to letter writing on the system. Study finds that implicit feedback (e.g., receiving, marking, and forwarding messages) have a different yet greater role in computer-mediated communication than in face-to-face communication.

Freeman, L. C. (1984). The impact of computer- based communication on the social structure of an emerging scientific specialty. Social Networks, 6, 201-221.

Studies the interpersonal ties among 16 scientists before and during a computer conference. Based on the results of questionnaires completed by the participants, the author concludes that a computer conference can take the place of face-to-face interaction and provide the necessary social structure for a scientific specialty to develop.

Greif, I. (Ed.). (1988). Computer-supported cooperative work: A book of readings. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Presents a collection of 28 articles dealing with the subject of computer-mediated communication as it primarily relates to organizational settings. Topics range from the origin of computer-mediated studies, theoretical issues in computer-mediated studies, system designs, comparisons to other communication modes, and empirical studies investigating the cognitive and affective influences of computer networks.

Hiltz, S. R. (1984). Online communities: A case study of the office of the future. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Presents the results of a two-year case study of several scientific research communities communicating via the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES). Examines users' acceptance of system, reactions to and preferences for specific features, changes in communication and work patterns, and users' levels of productivity when using the system.

Hiltz, S. R., & Turoff, M. (1978). The network nation: Human communication via computer. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Presents an in-depth survey of how computer networks are used by various individuals, groups, and organizations, with an emphasis

on the social and psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. Reviews applications of computer networks in business, government, education, and the home, and presents analyses of how communication via a computer network may affect individual and group participation and interactions among members within a group.

Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., & McGuire, T. W. (1984). Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, 39, 1123-1134.

Describes the issues raised by computer-mediated communication and presents results of an empirical study investigating how groups communicate differently face-to-face versus asynchronous (real-time) computer network and electronic mail, with respect to variables of participation, communication efficiency, interpersonal behavior, and group choice. Study finds that both forms of computer-mediated communication have marked effects on these variables and that instances of uninhibited behavior are somewhat greater in the synchronous network as compared to electronic mail.

Rice, R. E., & Love, G. (1987). Electronic emotion: Socioemotional content in a computer-mediated communication network. Communication Research, 14, 85-108.

Authors examine the transcripts of computer conferences and find that computer-mediated communication systems can facilitate an exchange of "socioemotional" content (i.e., interactions that show solidarity, tension relief, agreement, antagonism, tension, and disagreement). Provides a description of two different approaches to networking.

Schaefermeyer, M. J., & Sewell, E. H. (1988). Communicating by electronic mail. American Behavioral Scientist, 32, 112-123.

Presents a review of the research on computer-mediated communication and the results of a survey of users of three different computer networks operating on BITNET. The survey results suggest that electronic mail is becoming increasingly popular as a replacement for other communication systems--telephone, letter, and face-to-face communication.

Sherblom, J. (1988). Direction, function, and signature in electronic mail. Journal of Business Communication, 25, 39-54.

Presents a content analysis of 157 electronic-mail files received during a period of several months by a middle-level manager of a large organization, with respect to direction (horizontal or vertical communication), communicative function, and absence or presence of a signature. Finds significant differences in communicative function and presence of signature with respect to direction of communication. Argues that, throughout the corporation, electronic mail changes communication function and context in specific ways.

Siegel, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S., & McGuire, T. W. (1986). Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 157-187.

Describes three experimental studies that explore the effects of computer-mediated communication on communication efficiency, participation, interpersonal behavior, and group choice. Comparisons of face-to-face with computer-mediated transcripts show that participants make fewer remarks and take longer to reach a group consensus in computer-mediated conversations, although group participation was more equal in computer-mediated sessions than in face-to-face meetings. In addition, more instances of uninhibited behavior are found in computer-mediated sessions.

Smith, J. Y., & Vanacek, M. T. (1988). Computer conferencing and task-oriented decisions: Implications for group decision support. Information and Management, 14, 123-132.

Researchers conduct an experiment to compare the task-oriented, decision-making activities of students communicating face-to-face versus a computer conference. Students must share task information to reach a decision. Results of the experiment indicate that face-to-face may be a more effective mode of communication than computer conferencing for the completion of tasks.

Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1986). Reducing social context cues: Electronic mail in organizational communication. Management Science, 32, 1492-1512.1512.

Using research on how social context cues regulate communication, the researchers argue that electronic mail reduces social context cues and therefore affects communication behavior. Presents the results of an empirical study in two divisions of a Fortune 500 company, and discusses implications of the findings for organizational management.

The Language of CMC

Feenberg, A. (1987). Computer conferencing and the humanities. Instructional Science, 16, 169-186.

A humanities teacher uses examples from personal experience and concepts from communications theory to explain the features of computer conferencing. Author suggests that teachers can act as moderators of computer conferences to create an on-line equivalent of the classroom.

Levinson, P. (1986). Marshall McLuhan and computer conferencing. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 29, 9-11.

Author argues that McLuhan's "holographic" (i.e., short, freestanding, self-sustaining commentaries framed around a common theme) style of writing is similar to the style of writing found in computer conferences where participants engage in dialogues on a central theme, usually through short series of comments. By comparing McLuhan's writing with the writing of computer conferences, a reader can gain a better understanding of the writing styles of both.

Spitzer, M. (1989). Computer conferencing: An emerging technology. In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Critical perspectives on computers and composition instruction (pp. 187-200). New York: Teachers College Press.

Examines the advantages of computer conferencing in an academic context. Describes some features unique to computer conferencing that include "branching" conferences and "videotext"--the language of computer conferencing that is linear and permanent like print, yet conversational and temporary. Also suggests professional and educational applications of computer conferencing.

Spitzer, M. (1986). Writing style in computer conferences. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, 29, 19-22.

The text of computer conferences is temporary and therefore is a slightly different form of communication than print medium. There are characteristics unique to communicating via computer conferences, such as absence of facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal signals, and users must adopt new strategies in order to effectively communicate in this environment.

Mark Mabrito is Assistant Professor of English at Purdue University-Calumet.