We need additional examples to understand more the phenomenon of co-alienation. In particular, it is not clear to us whether Bakhtinian ideas about dialogism can help to understand co-alienation: Of course, Bakhtin asserts that gaps between interpretations and understandings always exist, and somehow fuel dialogic meaning making. But as notices Matusov, Bakhtin’s gaps are positive as people continue their dialogs because of the expectation “of their mutual surprise from each other, of theirmutual wonder about each other, of their mutual interest in each other, of their mutual respect of one another’s agency of decision-making – this interest and respect is not instrumental but rather goal- and value-defining – iswhat I call dialogic interadressivity”. This is not what we feel in the discussion we analyzed. More generally, our subjective experience as users of social networks is that when we interact with various electronic tools we have at the same time an impression of closeness and togetherness but also of solitude: we think that we understand the other and communicate with her, but it is sometimes an illusion. How are these impressions related to co-alienation? This is an issue to be pursued in further research. We only showed in this paper that co-alienation is possible in synchronous discussions. But, of course, communication is not governed by co-alienation in all synchronous discussions, althoughwe conjecture that it is frequent.
At that stage, it is premature to discuss the educational relevance of co-alienation and to decide whether its emergence is a priori welcome or should be avoided. But the question whether co-alienation is utterly bad or whether it can lead to learning, seems to us a wrong question. What is certain is that it does not fit any of the four senses of intersubjectivity recognized so far. These senses were useful to document different forms of guided participation or of peer collaboration towards learning gains. Since co-alienation exists, the right question is how people can learn from such communication. And indeed we can ask whether the discussion between Ahmad, Judith, Fatima and Rim lead to any kind of learning. On the one hand, the discussion in itself seemed quite shallow, scattered with persistent misunderstandings. However, Ahmad and Judith earned invaluable insights during this lopsided discussion. True, this is their auto-confrontation that demonstrated clear gains but it is impossible to know whether this reflective activity revealed or promoted those gains. Anyway, synchronous discussions should be considered in their larger educational contexts. They rarely happen as isolated activities but rather belong to a series of activities. The cued retrospective/ auto-confrontation was arranged in the present study for experimental purposes, but it resembles common educational settings in which synchronous discussions are reflected on. Therefore, Judith’s understanding that discussions do not only help deciding who is right but help co-constructing new ideas, Ahmad’s confession that his plan to facilitate without interfering was too simplistic and is a very complex endeavor, Fatima’s recognition that she should have overcome her anger to be more active in her interventions… all these lessons derivate from critical moments that occurred during the discussion. We should say more: the very breakdowns that burst during the synchronous discussion provided invaluable learning opportunities. It seems then that synchronous discussions provide unique opportunities to learn what othermodes cannot provide because, among other reasons, they yield persistent displays to reflect on and because they enable actions on previous moves. The precariousness of communication in synchronous discussions, the state of co-alienation we described, can be dangerous. However, it can serve, with appropriate activities, to improve interactions in discussions among learners.