This mixed methods study explored the dynamics of interaction within a self-paced online learning environment utilizing both rich media and a mix of traditional and emerging asynchronous computer-mediated communication tools to determine what forms of interaction learners in a self-paced online course value most as well as what impact they perceive interaction to have on their overall learning experience. This study demonstrated that depending on the specific circumstance, not all forms of interaction may be either equally valued by learners or effective. Participants reported that informal interactions were as important as formal interactions in determining the quality of the online learning experience. In addition, participants reported the activity of blogging as being equally valued and in some ways superior to instructor-directed asynchronous discussion via the discussion board in a learning management system. While it may be possible to design opportunities for interpersonal interaction that may in fact rival interaction with the instructor or content, in the particular self-paced online learning environment that was studied, this was not the case. As a result of this study, the researcher developed the Interaction Matrix as one potential model for considering the incorporation of the holistic interaction forms available when designing online learning environments. The results of this study provide guidelines for instructional designers developing instructional strategies for online environments when neither the instructor nor course requirements impose pace upon the learners. The components of what may be deemed “well-designed instruction” can span beyond stimulus-response or drill and practice activities to include a wide range of dynamic interactions as outlined in the Interaction Matrix. Such diverse interactions all collectively comprise a dynamic learning environment consisting of one or more learning communities that can extend beyond the restrictions of any single course section, connecting learners in unique ways.
|Commitee:||Kays, Elena, Pina, Anthony|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-A 68/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Adult education, Continuing education, Educational software, Curricula, Teaching|
|Keywords:||Distance education, Instructional design, Interaction, Interaction equivalency, Learning environments, Mixed methods, Online, Online learning, Self-paced|
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