Enhancing Meaningful Interaction in Online Learning

A good learning design should provide for more learner-learner interaction and leaner-expert interaction, than learner-content interaction.

An online platform by itself will not enhance human interaction. The tools can be the same but the effectiveness for learning will depend on the extent to which the environment facilitates human interaction.

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View the following video and read the next part of this section after that. Do take notes while you view the video. You may pause the video at appropriate places in order to make sure that you understand the content well.

Interview with Richard Culatta 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 learning leverages social learning practices the more effective it will be. Instructional design is essential to effective online learning.

Source: http://youtu.be/Zv-_GCFdLdo (Accessed on 4 March 2012)

You should have found the short video quite informative. The focus of the video is to look at learning as a social activity and how individuals learn by engaging in social interaction. Michael Moore talks about three types of interaction viz.
  1. Learner-Content interaction
  2. Learner-Expert interaction
  3. Learner-Learner interaction
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Observe a regular classroom or a virtual group situation as web-conference or the WawasanLearn in WOU and analyse the interactions in the given context. Calculate what percentage of the interactions are ‘learner-learner' interaction and ‘learner-teacher/tutor/expert' interaction. 

What was the nature of these interactions? What percentage of the interactions was related to the content and learning outcomes? What percentage was related to organisational matters? Discuss the result of your activity with your colleagues and in the tutorial.

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  1. Consider a scenario where most of the interaction happening in an online learning situation is ‘learner-content' interaction, where the learner passively learns from the material provided and little, if any, interaction takes place among the learners and between the learners and the tutor/experts. Is this a desirable situation? Yes/No
  2. Give reasons for your answer.

This sub-section presents the implications of active interaction in an online learning situation. Read the pages indicated in the online book given below.
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Mohamed Ally (2004) ‘Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning' in Terry Anderson and Fathi Elloumi (ed) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca University, 18-26.


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