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Building Interaction into Online Courses. Kristin Bird, Principal. Role of the Instructor . To create a dynamic and academically effective learning environment In online courses, this is especially required.

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Presentation Transcript
role of the instructor
Role of the Instructor
  • To create a dynamic and academically effective learning environment
  • In online courses, this is especially required.
  • Palloff and Pratt (2001) state “the key to success in our online classes rests not with the content that is being presented but with the method by which the course is being delivered” (p. 152). 
to be covered in this session
To be covered in this session:
  • The role of the instructor in online learning
  • Challenges of online instructors
  • Types of Interactions
  • Adding Interaction (steps)
  • Tools for adding Interaction
challenges of online instructors
Challenges of Online Instructors
  • What is one of our Biggest Challenges?
    • Creating an interactive learning environment allows us to expect more out of our students.
  • How can we do this?
    • By creating a consistent level of interaction that fosters genuine learning and cultivates a community atmosphere.
why is interaction necessary
Why is Interaction Necessary?
  • According to the Department of Educational Technology at Northern Illinois University,

“Interaction is one of the most important elements of online instruction because it is helpful for learners in getting feedback from the instructor about their performance in course-related activities and also for encouraging learners to engage in active learning.”


Other students






steps to adding interactivity
Steps to adding interactivity:
  • Decide on goal/purpose
  • Decide how you will meet that goal
    • What methods will you use?
    • What tools will be required?
  • Add the interactivity into the courses only if it is more benefit than “harm”
goal purpose
  • What is the key philosophy of my teaching point of view that will drive all the decisions I make as a teacher?
    • This is about finding the “core” of what you want communicated through the course

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

tools for adding interaction
Tools for adding Interaction
  • Start in your LMS
    • Discussion forums
    • Internal Blog
    • Whiteboard
    • IM
    • Wiki
  • Looking to the Web at Large
    • Twitter - Blogs - Dabbleboard
    • Facebook - Skype - Jing
    • Yahoo groups - Shapevine
student to student interactions
Student to Student Interactions


  • Chats / IM


  • Discussion Forums
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
how to create a discussion forum
How to create a Discussion Forum

You must decide:

  • Why you want them to use online discussion

(explore new ideas, review concepts, compare experiences …)

  • What you want them to base their discussion on

(readings, in-class discussion, personal opinion …)

  • How you expect them to use it

(when, how often, types of postings: original vs. response …)

making the most of your discussions
Making the most of your Discussions
  • Want to turn your classroom into a hotbed of discussion? Get your students thinking about and discussing biblically based open-ended questions. Challenge your students to think about how the topic you are teaching has ethical components.
    • How is the knowledge of the topic being taught used and abused?
    • What are some different worldviews regarding the topic?
    • What are the ramifications of operating from those different worldviews?
  • Getting the class to discuss controversial issues not only lets the teacher know what the students believe, but provides a great opportunity to share Truth with them.
discussion forum tips
Discussion Forum Tips
  • Require students to participate
  • Grade their effort
  • Involve learning teams
  • Build a structure into the discussions
  • Pose questions/scenarios that require students to use their own experience
  • Make questions relate to research they have done ahead of time
  • Relate the discussion to course objectives
discussion board questions that involve interaction
Discussion Board Questions That Involve Interaction
  • Ones that avoid asking yes/no questions
  • DB’s that aren’t based on purely factual answers
  • DB’s that ask for reflection, interpretation, problem-solving, analysis
  • Questions that solicit personal experience and/or opinion
  • Ones that require engagement with other class members (require students to “talk” to each other and respond to each other)
  • Questions that require connections to be made between previous and present course material
examples of postings which are good
Examples of Postings (which are “good”?)
  • “After working through the information I came up with the following… have I got this right?”
  • “I agree that…, this is backed up by the reasons in previous messages”, or “yes that’s what I got…”
  • “Another point to consider is…”, “I thought Q1 was actually asking for…so maybe you could ask…”
  • “I agree with your comments so far giving…. As (teacher’s name) told us (definition provided) so we should also take into consideration this process…”.
  • “Ok here are the group answers…gathered from what everyone has said and agreed upon”, “so the general consensus is that we’d use…because…”
sample discussion forum rubric
Sample Discussion Forum Rubric

student to teacher interactions
Student to Teacher Interactions
  • "frequent student-faculty contact in and out of class is a most important factor in student motivation and involvement" (Chickering and Ehrmann, 1996).
  • Many instructors who are new to the online environment have legitimate concern as to the impact of the loss of face-to-face classroom interaction.
  • Also, many students who are new to online courses are frequently anxious about this new way of learning and greatly appreciate a supportive teacher.
student to teacher cont d
Student to Teacher (cont’d)
  • It is essential for instructors who are leading online courses to "reach out" and communicate with their online students--early and often.
  • What strategies can be used?
student to teacher interactions1
Student to Teacher Interactions
  • Create a biography of yourself and prepare a brief video introducing yourself and the course topic to the class. Place this in the course Announcements section.
    • This presents your personality online
    • Also sets the mood for the semester
  • Send a personal Welcome email before the course starts. Include:
    • Introduction to you and the course
    • Your contact information (and alternative information)
    • Tips for getting started
    • Information that they need to know about the course (helpdesk, materials they need, etc)
student to teacher interactions cont d
Student to Teacher Interactions (cont’d)
  • Set up a “Class Lounge”- a place where students can go and chat and ask questions or make observations about the class in an more informal setting. Students may answer each other’s questions, too. They may also use this as a more social setting and discuss other items besides the course content in a “safe” environment (you are the monitor)
  • Set up Live Office Hours (either inside or outside the LMS)
    • Students are invited one at a time to chat with you during certain hours
student to teacher interactions cont d1
Student to Teacher Interactions (cont’d)
  • Include “Icebreakers” often
    • Some LMS’s have a polling area for this
    • You could also use the discussion board
    • Start a live chat session or even a blog
  • IDEAS for online course icebreakers:
biblical integration teacher to student
Biblical Integration: Teacher to Student
  • Part of the deliberate Biblical integration we build into our courses comes in the form of building relationships with students.
  • When we show we care not only about them personally, but spiritually, and are willing to challenge them, we build deeper relationships with them than otherwise. This leads to:
    • Greater retention rates
    • Sense of belonging
    • Sharing of goals and values
    • Mutual support for learning performance
student to material content
Student to Material (Content)

Students need to be held accountable for the content of the course. How can we do this?

  • Create inquiry or project based learning projects that empowers them to come up with their own conclusions facts and ideas
  • Take the material, the use of experts, the ability of the student to post/defend/expand on their ideas, and then present these ideas in a real world context and then go back and revaluate their efforts
student to material content1
Student to Material (Content)

We are essentially…

  • taking the material a student must learn and asking them to apply it by using technology to critically think and then apply that thinking to a real world situation.
biblical integration student to material
Biblical Integration: Student to Material
  • Biblical integration is taking a lesson objective and/or lesson outline, and teaching it from a Christian perspective.
  • It is not just a lesson or objective devoid of God, his character, nature, or creation, nor is it solely about God, his character, nature or creation. It is a melding of the two.
  • It is understanding the objective or lesson from the Christian perspective


Chickering, A. W, & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996). Implementing the seven principles: Technology as lever. AAHE Bulletin, 49(2):3-6.

Palloff, R. M. and Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Prammanee, Noppadol. (2003, March). Understanding participation

in online courses: A case study of perceptions of online

interaction. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from

questions comments
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