In a face to face environment, the reactions and inter-reactions are measurable and confined to a specific time and space. In online learning they may be spread over days or weeks, with comments or criticisms lying dormant for the entire time, festering directly on the mind of the writer. They may even log in more often to check for responses, getting increasingly frustrated at the flashing annoyance of the VLE proclaiming ‘no new messages’. And perhaps days later when they have moved onto something else, a different concept or interaction, someone picks up the thread and starts it all over again, either responded to or sometimes equally ignored.
So, as a practitioner (learner or teacher, or simply interested spectator) what does this mean for the practice of how we manage online learning. Well, I argue there are three critical implications for the design and management of online learning in a disinhibitive environment.