Moderation of the learning process comprises supporting learning with the help of a variety of instructional interventions. It is an integral part of any educational context and is often carried out by teachers and tutors as well as students themselves. Moderation of learning can serve several purposes. One of its most important functions is the provision of feedback on learning. In online learning, where the teacher is not in situ during much of the learning and teaching process, moderation (or e-moderation) takes on an added degree of importance (see Salmon, 2000; 2003).
E-moderation refers to the acts of managing, facilitating and engendering group based computer-mediated communication (CMC). Such communication can be synchronous or asynchronous. In the synchronous mode, even though the participants may be physically separated from one another , the communication takes place in real time (i.e., they are logged on at the same time and reacting to each other’s comments as soon as these are received). Synchronous computer-mediated communication is quite like a telephone conversation except that the communication channel in the former is normally text-based while in the latter it is voice-based. Synchronous voice-based communication that is mediated by computers is becoming possible with Voice over Internet software.
In the asynchronous communication mode, participants involved in the discussion are active (i.e., logged online) at different times, and may be separated from one another by physical distances. In the asynchronous mode, those who wish to communicate with others can do so in their own time and place without the need for face-to-face contact or being online at the same time. Users can post messages to new or current issues in their own time where these messages are stored for others to view, comment on, and review later .