Salisbury University students on campus

Learner Interaction

We all want our students to be actively involved in the learning process because we know that active learning promotes higher levels of thinking and skill-building. Additionally, the interaction keeps students focused and builds a discourse community within our class, across our university, and, more broadly, within their field. Active students are more engaged and more able to take responsibility for their own learning. Learning how to learn is an invaluable skill – possibly the most important thing we can teach our students.

When we build our courses, we should be thinking about interaction in three ways: learner to learner, learner to instructor, and learner to content.

Learner to Learner Interaction

We want our students to interact among themselves. This is an important dynamic in all modalities – traditional, online, and hybrid. Our students generally won’t interact on their own. We need to build opportunities for interaction into our courses. While an introductory discussion board post is a great start, it can’t be the only interaction our students have. For example, collaborative research or problem solving, group presentations, reading groups, and peer critiques are all good ways to get students working together on active projects. The tools you need to do any of those tasks are already in MyClasses.

  • Small or large group activities or projects
  • Collaboration using tools such as OneDrive and Google Docs
  • Peer review assignments
  • Breakout rooms (such as in Zoom)
  • Student presentations with Q&A
  • Think-Pair-Share activities
  • Email messages
  • Live class webinars
  • Asynchronous discussion forum conversations

Learner to Content Interaction

Giving our students opportunities to interact with the content of the course makes them more active learners. Some examples of content interaction include read-along quizzes, flash cards, and infographic creation. Reading a journal article is good, but annotating that article is better. Annotating that same article collaboratively is even better still.

Examples of learner to content interaction include:

  • Concept mapping exercises
  • Case-based learning
  • Practice quizzes
  • Developing Open Educational Resources
  • Participating in assessment creation

Learner to Instructor Interaction

Last, but never least, is the importance of learner interaction with you. Meaningful interaction with the instructor is vital for student success. Your purposeful interaction with the students often is the tool that keeps them engaged. Beyond the basic need to see a face and hear a voice behind the content of the course, students need your guidance and experience. Interaction with their instructors helps students reach higher levels of critical thinking and problem solving. Some ways that you can purposefully interact with students include Zoom meetings, meaningful formative feedback either in writing, by audio/video file, or in person, moderation of discussion boards, or video/podcast.

Examples of learner to instructor interaction include:

  • Assignment feedback
  • Project consultations
  • Writing conferences
  • Private email messages
  • Office hours
  • Live class webinars
  • Asynchronous discussion forum responses

If you’d like to add more interaction to your course or have ideas but need help implementing them, see your ID&D designer.