On-Ramps to Learning: The Progression of Learners Through Topics in the Online LabVIEW Forum

  • Christopher ScaffidiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 918)


Online forums can facilitate collaborative learning in situations where instructors impose structure promoting constructive interaction among students. This paper presents an investigation of how well an online forum, such as the LabVIEW programmer forum, supports learning in the absence of instructor-imposed structure. This study focuses first on whether specific topics served to draw users into the community and second on whether users displayed evidence of learning over time. Unsupervised machine learning on 475,094 posts in the LabVIEW forum identified 974 topical clusters among these posts, and statistical analysis confirmed that a minority (30%) of clusters accounted for over 70% of users’ initial posts. Linear regression revealed that subsequent posts by each user were indeed more likely to be flagged by the community as valuable, offering potential evidence of learning. However, this trend was not strong or uniform, suggesting the need for additional innovations in information technologies to support independent learning.


Information technologies in education Online forums 



National Instruments funded this research and gave permission to download the contents of the online forums. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Instruments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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