Lin, Dyer and Guo point out that when it comes to task-related concerns, online instructors are most anxious and apprehensive about the “balance of three types of interaction: content – student interaction, instructor – student interaction, and student – student interaction.”
Moore and Kearsley (2012) elaborated that:
Simply making a video podcast presentation or putting lecture PowerPoint material on a Web site is no more teaching than it would be to send the students a book through the mail. As well as presentations of information, at least as much attention should have been devoted to finding out each individual’s need and motivation for learning, giving each individual the opportunity for testing and practicing new knowledge, and for receiving evaluation of the results of such practice” (p. 136).
So how can online instructors interact effectively in online activities, and meet the needs of their learners? If they truly want to balance the three levels of interaction, they need to spend more time and effort when they teach online (McKenzie, Mims, Bennett, Waugh, 2000).
However, the more time and effort online instructors put into facilitating the three types of interaction, the greater number of questions they will have. Lin, Dyer and Guo, provide a few examples.
How do I facilitate and motivate online discussion? How involved should I be in online discussions? How do I show I am listening and caring online?
Online instructors need to commit to spending more time explicitly focusing on the three levels of interaction. Sure it’s harder and more of a challenge. But here is only one way to perform and teach at a higher level, and effectively make adjustments. Do it. Provide more opportunities to interact and receive feedback from students. Concerns can be overcome by;
- modeling problem solving and collaboration strategies,
- connecting new information to former knowledge,
- selecting thinking strategies deliberately,
- planning, monitoring, and evaluating thinking processes,
- shifting the responsibility for learning to the students, and demonstrating self-regulatory techniques,
- and modeling self-regulation strategies.
Online instructors who face the challenges of facilitating the three types of interaction, and consistently use the above strategies, will become better teachers. Oprah concludes,
I know for sure that in every challenging experience there’s an opportunity to grow, enhance your life, or learn something invaluable about yourself. Every challenge can make you stronger if you allow it. Strength multiplied = power.