There are many different types of interpersonal interactions that can occur in an online or hybrid course.
- As the instructor, you may periodically send announcements or email messages to your entire class about upcoming assignments or important updates.
- You may communicate with individual students, including messages about their performance in your class or scheduled office hours with a student that may have questions.
- Your students are also likely to interact with each other in some way, such as through the discussion forums or by email. This may be done as part of the course requirements, or as informal communications between students.
All of these interactions are important and can greatly impact students’ experiences in your courses. In fact, you may find it useful to increase the amount of interaction in your courses because the benefits.
This post explores some of the benefits of increasing the amount of interaction in your online and hybrid courses and offers a tool to help. Are you looking to support collaboration for your face-to-face class? Then, this recent post may be more of what you are looking for.
The Benefits of Interaction
Offering opportunities for different types of positive interaction can increase students’ satisfaction with their online courses. To list a few other key benefits, good quality interactions can:
- Increase students’ learning.
- Increase students’ motivation and effort.
- Reduce the feelings of isolation that online learners sometimes face.
- Reduce the demands on the instructor: students can be asked to take on leadership roles in the class by facilitating discussions, discovering useful resources, and supporting other students.
- Help the instructor to assess the depth of students’ learning.
- Provide students with real world skills related to collaboration, communication and leadership; the ability to master these skills by working remotely is an additional asset.
How to Begin
It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to creating a good environment for interaction and collaboration. To help, we have created a checklist with proven techniques for fostering positive and productive interaction among online learners. It includes rationales for why each step is beneficial as well as some tools and resources to help you get started.
This checklist is organized into different stages:
1) Developing your plan for the course (and organizing the materials)
2) Communicating with students about the course requirements
3) Fostering collaboration and facilitation during activities
You can pick and choose which stages and steps apply to you, based on your course’s current needs. Though, you’ll likely get the best results when you can incorporate interaction from the beginning of your course planning process.
This is a new tool, so please let Jessica know if you have feedback or suggestions about how to make this more useful for you and your classes!
Sources and Further Reading
Palloff, R. and Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Available from Amazon.com.
Swan, K. (2004). Relationships between interactions and learning in online environments. The Sloan Consortium. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/freedownloads.