Designing for interaction with teachers

Designing for learner – teacher interaction, or teacher presence and engagement has always been an important component of student learning, regardless if the course is delivered face-to-face, blended or wholly online. The interaction between a student and an expert teacher can stimulate and maintain the student's interest, motivate the student to learn, provide direction and leadership, organise the student's application of concepts and/or practice of skills, and assess learning.

Online interaction

Many teachers when first moving into online learning and teaching, fall into the trap of ‘set-and-forget’. Because the normal engagement cues of face-to-face interactions are missing, it is even more important to have an online presence when teaching. Students need to know that the teacher is actively interested in their learning progress and success. When designing for teaching presence, consider the following examples to enable regular engagement and interaction between learner and teacher. Examples include:

  • Weekly updates and FAQ’s
  • Virtual office hours
  • Video discussions to enable students to visual teacher
  • Teacher facilitation of an online discussion forum
  • Virtual classes or learning sessions
  • Ongoing journaling with students
  • Teacher created study-guides
  • Feedback on student work

Embedding industry expertise

It is also important to consider the engagement learners can have with other industry experts to support them with applying theory to practice and integrating real-world relevance. It is important as part of your course design, to consider embedding connections with the likes of:

  • Other Federation University lecturers who have expertise in the topic covered
  • Industry experts who can contribute resources and/or time to topics and learning activities covered
  • Collaborations with other Universities, where applicable, to enable a national or global perspective

Consider also any industry accreditation requirements that may influence the design process and how teaching is to be delivered.

Embedding professional and academic supports

Interactions with staff can also take the form of professional and academic support services. These University staff can provide support with academic work, and general health and well-being. It is important as part of your course design, to consider embedding connections with the likes of:

  • Library staff to support research skills
  • Learning Skills Advisors to support academic writing and study skills
  • Student Connect services to support general health and well-being needs
  • Student Academic Support Services to embed academic resources and programs to support student learning

Resources or assistance


  • Garrison, D., & Vaughan, N., (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines. San Francisco, Wiley.
  • Kelly, R. (2012) Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom, Online Classroom,12.10