Online Interaction

Student interaction in online courses

As online courses continue to spread and increase in use, instructors are concerned that they may no longer be able to interact with their students in personable ways and that student engagement, as well as peer interaction, may decrease. These concerns are substantiated as studies suggest that online students’ feelings of disconnectedness and isolation are the main reasons that they drop out of the online courses. This problem can be remedied by fostering a community online through active interaction and feedback between students and their professors as well as their peers. Student interaction in online courses is important because there is a significant correlation between the sense of community connectedness and perceived learning. Building a connected community for online courses is not an impossible task. For instance, the number of students in a class, number of lectures, and average length of lecture in minutes have no statistically significant relationship with students’ persistence and completion of an online course. On the other hand, a lecturer’s accessibility and passion for teaching can positively influence and improve student interaction and engagement in online courses.

Practical tips for increasing meaningful online class interaction

  1. Set expectations about interactions in terms of interaction with course materials, interaction between teacher and students and interaction among students.
  2. Set rules of engagement.  Define netiquette for novice users of online courses.
  3. Be accessible to students at appointed times through live webcasts using virtual office hours (Canvas Chat or Conference).
  4. Instead of asking students to post text in discussion forums, diversify and use videos to promote interaction.
  5. Consider using group project in online courses to promote collaboration.