Topic 1: Introduction to using digital technology to foster learner interaction in online study

This description aims to provide practical insights for university teachers on maintaining and enhancing learner interaction in e-learning, acknowledging the challenges and focusing on the potential of digital technologies to create a new, dynamic educational experience.

Bridging the Gap
Transitioning from face-to-face to e-learning environments requires us to reimagine how we facilitate interaction and engagement among learners. While the shift to digital education can dilute the immediacy and richness of in-person exchanges, it also opens up new avenues for interaction that can transcend the limitations of physical space.

Enhancing Digital Interactivity
As we embrace digital technologies in e-learning, it’s essential to harness tools that support interactive learning. Synchronous tools like live video conferencing can replicate the real-time discussions of a traditional classroom, while asynchronous forums allow for deeper reflection and ongoing conversation. Virtual breakout rooms, peer-review platforms, and collaborative wikis can foster group work and peer-to-peer learning, maintaining the collaborative spirit of face-to-face settings.

Cultivating Presence
A key element that is often diminished in e-learning is the sense of presence. To address this, encourage the use of webcams during synchronous sessions to maintain visual contact. Integrate real-time polls, quizzes, and interactive elements into your teaching to keep students actively involved. By regularly soliciting feedback and contributions from students, we can create a dynamic learning environment where every voice has the opportunity to be heard.

Embracing the E-Learning Paradigm
While we acknowledge what might be lost in not sharing a physical space — such as body language cues and the social interactions before and after class — we can adopt practices that compensate for these losses. Regular check-ins, personalized feedback, and the facilitation of student-led discussions can help maintain a sense of community and belonging.

Commitment to Continuous Improvement
As educators, we must continually adapt and refine our strategies to enhance learner interaction in e-learning settings.
By doing so, we not only replicate the collaborative experience of the classroom but also expand on it, leveraging the unique capabilities of digital technologies to create a rich, engaging, and interactive learning experience.

UVA School of Education and Human development. (2020, June 25). Interactions and Online Learning. [YouTube Video].

Learn more:

Use Artificial Intelligence to facilitate student interaction
Seo, K., Tang, J., Roll, I. et al. (2021). The impact of artificial intelligence on learner–instructor interaction in online learning. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18, 54.