Within the field of higher education, there are situations where the learner is not well served in a classroom setting. Problematic issues such as scheduling, critical mass, time, pace and location have the potential to be counterbalanced by e-learning. Within this, the asynchronous nature of today's online learning environments and computer conferencing tools have popularly been claimed to offer tremendous benefits for learners who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning, to progress at their own pace, and interact with their online teacher to get immediate feedback on their learning and progress. Indeed, increasingly, educators today are very keen to exploit some of these new technologies for the benefit of their learners. It is argued in this article that there is a need to address the practice and research of asynchronous computer mediated conferencing. As conferencing tools become an increasingly common feature in students' experience, teachers need to have an understanding of how these tools facilitate the formation and maintenance of collaborative learning communities.
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