A Closer Look at Interaction

Instructional design strategies for online learning have typically considered three main types of interaction: learner-content interaction, learner-instructor interaction and learner-learner interaction (Moore, 1989). However, the online mode has tremendous potential to spur interaction beyond the blurry boundaries of an online course environment. The importance of this type of interaction is acknowledged in the Quality Guidelines presented in this site. Below are the five types of interaction with some of the indicators for successful implementation.

  1. Learner-content interaction
    • Learners can interact with the course content in multiple ways (for example, through multimedia, activities, assignments, self-assessments, projects, etc.)
  2. Learner-instructor interaction
    • Learners-instructor interaction takes place in multiple forms through various communication channels (for example, through introductions in a bulletin board, the creation of participant profiles, feedback, office hours, etc.)
    • Instructor interacts with students individually and as a group
    • Instructor’s interaction with the whole class is frequent (at least once a week) throughout the duration of the course (for example, through a course announcement, generalized feedback on activities or assignments, etc.).
  3. Learner-learner interaction
    • Opportunities are created for learners to interact with other learners (for example, through peer-evaluation, games, competitions, discussions, presentations, etc.)
  4. Learner-Community-of-practice interaction
    • Learners are exposed to relevant communities of practice (for example, course includes resources related to those communities of practice, such as links to relevant sites or organizations)
    • Learners have opportunities to interact with the community of practice (for example, through guest speakers/lecturers, simulations, course activities, etc.)
  5. Learner-self interaction
    • Opportunities are created for learners to reflect (for example, through journals, etc.)

Moore, M.G. (1989). Editorial: Three types of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-7.