To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Game learning analytics of instant messaging and online discussion forums in higher education

Ana Beatriz Hernández-Lara (Business Management Department, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain)
Alexandre Perera-Lluna (B2SLab, Departament d’Enginyeria de Sistemes, Automàtica i Informàtica Industrial, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) (Networking Biomedical Research Centre in the subject Area of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), Madrid, Spain) (Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu, Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain)
Enric Serradell-López (Economics and Business Department, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 5 August 2021

Issue publication date: 2 November 2021




With the growth of digital education, students increasingly interact in a variety of ways. The potential effects of these interactions on their learning process are not fully understood and the outcomes may depend on the tool used. This study explores the communication patterns and learning effectiveness developed by students using two basic synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in e-learning environments, specifically business simulation games.


The authors conduct a quasi-experiment research with 478 online business students, 267 of whom used online discussion forums and 211 interacted via an instant messaging app. The application of learning analytics and text mining on natural language processing allows us to explore the student communication patterns with each of tools and their effectiveness in terms of learning.


The results confirm the complementarity of the communication tools, asynchronous tools being especially the suitable for task-related communication and synchronous ones for speeding up and facilitating student social interactions.


The main value of this research lies in the use of data analytics and text mining to access and analyse the content of student interactions to assess the learning process in greater depth, comparing synchronous and asynchronous learning modes, considering that little is known about the impact of online synchronous interaction or instant messaging, and even less about the different features, content and performance that emerge when these two learner interaction modalities are compared.



There is not any potential conflict of interest in this research.


Hernández-Lara, A.B., Perera-Lluna, A. and Serradell-López, E. (2021), "Game learning analytics of instant messaging and online discussion forums in higher education", Education + Training, Vol. 63 No. 9, pp. 1288-1308.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles