Handling controversies in digital discussions and learning to maintain openness to differences are important to democracies and for political education in the digital age. Yet for too long, the emotional aspect of social interactions in learning tasks was often overlooked. Some of them focused on their role in identity formation, while others scrutinized the role of emotions in conceptual learning. We argue that for their crucial role in discussions, which is definitely not subdued to the argumentative aspect of discussions, emotions should be at the centre of the efforts to understand and designing CSCL. The questions that arise when dealing with discussions in which people are deeply engaged with the issues at stake, and in which the decision to be reached seems to be fundamentally dear to them, are different from traditional view of learning discussions. The overall goals of the workshop is to study the role of emotions in “hot discussions” and to elaborate on role that CSCL tools may help in guiding group discussion and alleviating tension. We will explore the theme through scrutiny over data, using three perspectives:

  1. Methodological: We will discuss methods for analysis and coding the manifestations and roles of emotions in hot discussions.
  2. Design: CSCL representational tools, which are so central in collaboration and argumentation in general, will be explored for their suitability to the needs of supporting educational hot discussions. We will also discuss the possibilities of automatic monitoring of discussions using Artificial Intelligence, with the goal of assisting teachers in the difficult task of moderating such discussions in different settings, from small group discussions to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC).
  3. Pedagogy: On the background of the reported decline in the practice of engaging students in controversial discussions as part of their democratic education, we will introduce and critically explore innovative blended pedagogies that use CSCL to enhance productive dialogue across differences.

Presenters and commentators to participate in the workshop include Kristine Lund, Claire Polo, Nathalie Muller-Mirza, Frank Fischer, Karsten Stegman, Armin Weinberger, and Tsafrir Goldberg.

Description of the planned sessions

The workshop will include three sessions. Each session will include a short introduction; data based activity and concluding open discussion with added pre-fixed experts’ contributions. Spreadsheets with the data for the workshop will be delivered. Data is also available online. Participants will get links t the data site and be requested to have general acquaintance with it.

  1. The first session will include introduction on the importance of enabling intense emotions in group interactions and a review of the research done so far on the role of emotions in group-learning. The remainder of the session will be dedicated to the presentation of coding systems by invited and interested participants.
  2. The second session will be dedicated to a hands-on analysis of data using different coding systems. Several groups will be constituted, each of them analyzing the same data with a different system. At the end of the session, the groups will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the different codifications.
  3. In the third session, the discussion will resolve around the following questions:
    1. How can technological support facilitate and promote positive interactions between groups and help teachers to moderate the discussions?
    2. How to automatically recognize key moments in group-discussion leading to stagnation, such as ignoring arguments stated by another participant and ill-structured, unengaged (dull) responses?
    3. Scale: To what extent the coding techniques we developed can help in implementing tasks in online courses.


We invite practitioners and researchers with special interest in methodological issues related to the role of emotions in group-cognition to participate. Interested participants are requested to send a short Statement of Interest stating their correlated work and their theoretical standpoint. Researchers with designated coding system who wish to serve as key contributors, introduce and apply their method are requested to specify their wish in the Statement of Interest. Participants will be selected based on their interest, experience and theoretical standpoint, with a view to diversify the group.

For further information and to register, please contact Benzi Slakmon at

We look forward to collaborating with you in Philadelphia,

The organizers,

Michael Baker, CNRS – Telecom ParisTech
Baruch Schwarz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Benzi Slakmon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem & Ben Gurion University of the Negev