January 14th, 2011

Tips for Increasing Interactivity in an Online Course

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In a follow-up to the online seminar Creatively Engaging Online Students: Models and Activities, Curt Bonk, professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University, offered the following response from a participant who asked, “What is your favorite method to increase interactivity in an online class?”

  1. Require students to give feedback to a peer each time they post to a forum.
  2. Assign critical friends for feedback on blog posts or reflection activities.
  3. Have a minimum post rule of three sentences. Sentence #1 is “I agree with so and so”; sentence #2 is “I think [or I believe] this or that”; and in sentence #3 students finally must say something substantive.
  4. Combine asynchronous discussion with a synchronous visit from the expert before and after the discussion starts.
  5. Use Flash animations of content with reflection.

During the seminar, Bonk elaborated on the use of Flash animations: “One short two-minute video does more for learning than reading the book for four hours. Reading about the Enron crisis for two years, I learned nothing. Watching a video of it, I learned everything I needed to know.

“I’m overstating a little bit here, but you get the point. And these have become cheaper. They’ve become more functional. They’ve become easier to embed with broadband. If we don’t consider Flash animations in certain subject areas, we’re not proceeding in an interactive, engaging way with our students, especially visual learners. …”

For information about ordering recordings or transcripts of this online seminar, go here »

Reprinted from “Tips from the Pros – How to Increase Interactivity in an Online Course.” Online Classroom, Dec. 2009.