Designing for interaction online
An online learning environment provides additional challenges for engagement, motivation and connection. Without face-to-face contact, we are unable to pick up nonverbal cues from students that may indicate disengagement or frustration. The anonymous feeling of the online environment may make it easier for students to withdraw, or minimalise their participation. When planning to deliver online you need to consider including regular opportunities for both guided/teacher led and informal interaction which can be achieved using a variety of tools: forum, wiki, chat and virtual classroom. It is also important to set up an early expectation of engagement and interaction – for example through an early discussion activity – and use reports in Moodle to monitor activity and identify students who aren't participating.
For more information on using these tools in Moodle see the Moodle 'How to' website.
The following video is an interview with Richard Culatta (2009) about the importance of developing interactive online learning. Online learning should connect learners with each other and with experts and not just content. The more online leverages social learning practices the more effective it will be. Instructional design is essential to effective online learning. As you design your online course think about how much learner-learner, learner-experts and learner-content interactions there are.
View the following video and PDF on engaging and motivating students in an online environment.
- COFA.online: Engaging and motivating students (Video, 6:04min)
- COFA.online: Engaging and motivating students (PDF, 715kb)
Other links on this website that can assist you in this area
Where can I get support?
Each faculty has their own embedded eLearning contacts who can provide advice and assistance in designing an interactive online course. Alternatively, CLIPP staff can provide help.