Is the idea of interactive alignment applicable to synchronous e-discussions in general? Not exactly, but it is useful! But it provides some inspiration about for an alternative idea: Instead of aligning representations at different linguistic levels at the same time on the basis of what has just been heard, discussants interact with a growing map. This map has two contradictory characteristics. On the one hand, it changes instantly; messages arrive often at a hectic pace, sometimes simultaneously from different interlocutors. On the other hand, the map is stable; it mostly remains unchanged, with an accumulating history. The first characteristic seems to invite discussants to align their representations. However, discussants are not obliged to react to these messages. The second one leads discussants to rely on past persistent interpretations perpetuated by the map. There can then be different ways to maintain communication in synchronous discussions. It is reasonable to think that an implicit common ground fuels many synchronous discussions. But our case is different. For some discussants, the map provides an imaginary implicit common ground based on recent contributions. For others, the whole history is relevant, and every new contribution cannot be detached from past ones. Anyway, the high pace of communication gives the illusion to each discussant that he/she and his/her peers posted their beliefs about teaching, learning and moderating and interacted with them, and makes clear his/her (dis)agreements. However, what happened was a co-alienation— the juxtaposition of incompatible alignments of representations through a common external representation.
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