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The Moderator was not Noticeable

Judith attempts to justify the fact that she and her peers did not react to Ahmad’s contributions by pointing at technical mistakes that Ahmad did, despite his good intentions. For example, in her comment on Turn 30 (Please stop throwing out things without seriously referring to what is written), she admits that this intervention can help the group in organizing and promoting the discussion: The moderator belongs to the group. And he represents the goal which is common to all members of the group […] to take a decision, or to reach a conclusion. And this is the role he has — to help in this goal. Judith comments that in his interventions Ahmad complies with his roles of moderator. However, Judith estimates that he failed because he did not benefit from the visual aspect of Digalo: He says important things, but does not locate himself properly … he does not think about that. Do people listen to him, don’t listen to him, see him or don’t see him? And indeed, it seems as if Judith did not notice Ahmad’s contributions at all and she assumes that the same happened to the rest of the discussants. In her comment on his contribution in Turn 30, she explains: I didn’t see him at all; in my opinion, it’s very important, and if nobody notices you, you can’t organize a discussion. She suggests that Ahmad could have created a personal reference at the right place in the middle of the map and he could link it to everybody’s last contributions with arrows; not to put himself like that, on the side, in the corner. For Judith, the growing map is a central artifact for constructing shared meaning. Judith does not put all responsibility for this failure on Ahmad but mentions that the map is in disorder, and contributions hide one another, something which makes it difficult to organize a discussion.

Besides this critique (also aimed at justifying her behavior during the discussion), Judith praises Ahmad for his efforts to improve the quality of the discussion. While she notices that his contribution in Turn 30 (Please don’t throw out things without seriously referring to what is written) is a bit harmful, she asserts that the idea is good: the discussants really do not devote enough thought on their contributions. Although she claimed that she didn’t notice Ahmad, it seems that Judith reacted once to Ahmad’s effort to promote the quality of the discussion, and when he wrote that one should take advantage of what the authors of the papers wrote to see what pros and the cons are to write in Turn 36: We saw in Howe’s research that interventions by the computer are equivalent to interventions by the teacher. But I claim that still, a teacher was necessary to organize this computer event. So it’s impossible not to refer to the teacher. We have here one of the rare moments in which a reaction is made on the basis of a shared understanding. Also, as Judith attends Rim’s disagreement and Ahmad’s reaction, her interpretation is: The moderator tries a new way, as he didn’t succeed in explaining himself […] He shows her what he means, what is my problem with what you said. This interpretation fits Ahmad’s explanation of his act. But Judithwas surprised to see Ahmad trying another way to lead discussants to act more effectively, rather than simply doing it instead of Rim. The difference between Ahmad’s and Judith’s reactions corresponds to their perception of the role ofmoderator: both of them claimed that themoderator is a participant. However, Judith lacks the vision of a moderator as a manager that Ahmad has.

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In her auto-confrontation (and probably not in her discussion in vivo) Judith appreciated the way Ahmad tried to promote the quality of the discussion. However, she sees in his failure a lack of clarity: While Ahmad considered his interventions as perfectly clear and acceptable, this feeling of clarity was not shared by Judith who suggested a more egalitarian style of moderation (although she disdained her peers for what she considered as their shallow contributions). We will see in the following that for Fatima, Ahmad’s intervention was very clear but unacceptable.

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