An important factor in this course and one that is frequently pointed to in the research on online teaching is the inclusion of social interaction for student satisfaction and academic success. Long, Marchetti, & Fasse (2011) found that students who engaged in social communication within the parameters of an online course experienced greater academic success as shown with quantitative data in student grades. The students also reported greater satisfaction and a stronger sense of having learned the material when surveyed in comparison to students attending a traditional face-to-face class.
The model that has been taught in this course illustrates the importance of the interaction of a Community of Inquiry. Developing this interaction between peers and the instructor is very important as it allows students to learn collaboratively. This leads to a deeper cognitive understanding of the material by students as they collectively critique and reflect on the material and on peer interpretation to come to a deeper knowledge of the text.
Students may also draw from their real-world experiences in relating to the instruction which allows them to take away greater meaning and, through sharing this with their classmates, afford their peers to understand the material on a more personal level allowing for greater understanding of concepts. demonstrates the importance of peer-to-peer interaction, as well as, peer to instructor interaction in cognitive learning.
Garrison defines social presence as “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (2009). Using this model allows for greater cognitive interaction with the material through personal reflection and through peer-to-peer communication. The teacher’s presence is felt doubly under this model. The teacher interacts with students to promote learning. However, the teacher’s presence is also felt in the course design that allows for students to work collaboratively and to find personal meaning in what is being taught, leading to a better educational outcome (Roarke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).
Many courses currently use blogs to contribute to the social interactivity of online courses. Blogs are helpful because they allow students to learn from each other. They also give an opportunity for self-reflection on one’s own blog when the blog author must answer questions about what he or she has written. This allows the author to learn from the differing perspectives and responses to the blog. Generally, the research has found the use of blogs to be successful in an online environment to encourage student interaction and to enhance student academic success and satisfaction (Yang & Chang, 2012). Blogs in which students can comment on each others work allows for a peer interaction that would presumably be felt through discussion in a traditional classroom with the added advantage that everyone is able to speak through their writing.
Blogs are asynchronous in nature. In a study done by Roseth, et al, it was found that synchronous exchanges were the most valuable in retaining student interest level through a discussion or debate (2011). Independent learning more often resulted from asynchronous learning. Cooperative learning was more likely to develop in a synchronous setting. Medium had little impact (Roseth et al, 2011). Thus, tools like Elluminate, Skype, and Blackboard Collaborate which allow for a synchronous discussion among students or Google Documents which allows students to collaboratively build a presentation have significant important in developing successful online courses.
There has been tremendous growth in the technology of online learning. Educators are only beginning to explore how far these innovations will allow them to explore methods of encouraging student interaction, and through interaction, student learning. It is intuitive that when students are able to relate concepts to their or their peers personal experiences that this will deepen their understanding of the material. Tools such as Blogs, Pinterest, Skype, and Blackboard Collaborate will likely seem primitive in ten years, but currently they allow for greater student interaction which can only enhance student learning.
Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning: Social, teaching and cognitive presence. In C. Howard et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance and online learning (2nd ed., pp. 352-355). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Long, G. L., Marchetti, C., & Fasse, R. (2011). The Importance of Interaction for Academic Success in Online Courses with Hearing, Deaf, and Hard-of-Hearing Students. International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 12(6), 1-19.
Roseth, C. J., Saltarelli, A. J., & Glass, C. R. (2011). Effects of Face-to-Face and Computer-Mediated Constructive Controversy on Social Interdependence, Motivation, and Achievement. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 103(4), 804-820.
Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing social presence in asynchronous, text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(3), 51-70.
Yang, C. C., & Chang, Y. S. (2012). Assessing the Effects of Interactive Blogging on Student Attitudes towards Peer Interaction, Learning Motivation, and Academic Achievements. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(2), 126-135.