The global discussion thread
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The author analyzes the arrangement patterns of the discussion forums from three massive open online courses (MOOCs) for their potential in facilitating global civic discussion and learner communities. Based on Michael Warner’s theorizing of the textual public, the author observes that different learner communities and educational opportunities emerge across three overlapping types of discussion patterns. The linear responsive patterns produce more exclusive, scientific learner communities and advance epistemic understanding in competitive and cooperative modes of discussion. Additive patterns produce more inclusive democratic publics that bring learners together through the engagement of brainstorming different aspects of public problems and solutions to these problems. The repetitive discussion pattern has the potential to produce activist publics based on shared perceptions and experiences of problems that take on formation through the repetition of statements from different participants. With regard to the repetitive thread, the author observes that repetition unfolds a mimetic style that is fueled by textuality itself. Despite the redundancy of repetition, repetition is productive in escalating affective energy with the potential to motivate different forms of public activism. The author concludes that repetitive addition and additive repetition are chronological processes that build a public presence iteratively through time. The timely presence that is maintained through additive and repetitive patterns on digital discussion forums allows participants from across global distances to affiliate as a people around the urgency of global concerns.