Interaction in Web-Based Learning

Interaction in Web-Based Learning

Adams Bodomo (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch179
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Abstract

At the beginning of the 21s t century, we are faced with an age of rapid technological development in information and communication. Issues of educational reform have never been more urgent than now. One of the major challenges is how to design our educational system, in general, and our methods of instruction, in particular, to produce graduates who are better prepared to take up jobs in a knowledge-based environment characterized by a pervasive use of information communications technology (ICT). ICTs, especially modern digital ones, include various types of computers; digital cameras; local-area networking; the Internet and the World Wide Web; CD-ROMs and DVDs; and applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, tutorials, simulations, e-mail, digital libraries, computer-mediated conferencing, videoconferencing, and virtual reality (Blurton, 1999). Four main features of these modern digital ICTs make them stand out as very useful educational tools. These are integration of multimedia, flexibility of use, connectivity, and interactivity (Blurton, 1999).
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Introduction

At the beginning of the 21st century, we are faced with an age of rapid technological development in information and communication. Issues of educational reform have never been more urgent than now. One of the major challenges is how to design our educational system, in general, and our methods of instruction, in particular, to produce graduates who are better prepared to take up jobs in a knowledge-based environment characterized by a pervasive use of information communications technology (ICT). ICTs, especially modern digital ones, include various types of computers; digital cameras; local-area networking; the Internet and the World Wide Web; CD-ROMs and DVDs; and applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, tutorials, simulations, e-mail, digital libraries, computer-mediated conferencing, videoconferencing, and virtual reality (Blurton, 1999). Four main features of these modern digital ICTs make them stand out as very useful educational tools. These are integration of multimedia, flexibility of use, connectivity, and interactivity (Blurton, 1999).

The main focus of this article is an examination of just one of these features: interactivity. While interactivity has been a subject of considerable attention in the search for newer and more active methods of teaching and learning (Allen, 2003; Parker, 1999; Simms, 1999, 2000), there still remains a lot to be discussed as to how it can be enhanced in learning situations involving a mixture of Web-based course administration and face-to-face classroom instruction. It is quite clear that the introduction of ICTs into distance learning curricula is crucial in enhancing interactivity, given the situation where teacher and student are separated by distance. It is shown here, based on experiences with courses designed for both distance learners and traditional face-to-face classroom students where there is unity of time and unity of venue, that the use of the Web, one of the new digital ICTs enumerated above, along with other accessories and software that together give us what is termed Web-based teaching in a course, plays a crucial role in enhancing interactivity. The article is organized as follows. The next section defines interactivity and shows the important role it plays in constructive and active learning theories. Then, the main features of a course designed to achieve interactivity are described and it is shown how interaction was achieved. The section after that points to certain challenges that should be overcome to create more opportunities for enhancing interactivity in Web-based teaching in the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Literacy: Generally refers to the ability to read and write. It can then extend to include different types of literacy, for example, computer literacy, functional literacy, information literacy, political literacy, and so forth. It is a multidisciplinary concept; its definition thus varies according to different fields of studies.

ICT (Information Communications Technology): It refers to the utilization of technology to process and access information, and to assist and facilitate communication.

WebCT: An asynchronous, Web-based course-management system that provides a platform for e-learning and teaching practices, used amongst educational institutions. The instructor(s) and learners can interact and communicate flexibly through WebCT without the constraints of both time and place.

Transactional Distance: According to Moore (1996, p. 200), it is an interplay between people who are teachers and learners, in environments that have the special characteristics of being separate from one another, and a consequent set of special teaching and learning behaviors. It is the physical distance that leads to a communications gap, a psychological space of potential misunderstanding between the behaviors of instructors and those of the learners, and this is the transactional distance.

Learner-Resource Interaction: The interaction that involves learners actively communicating with textbooks, hard-copy handouts, lecture notes, and with ICT-based current and remote resources such as online lecture notes and outlines, CD-ROMs, glossaries, calendars of activities, progress reports, quizzes, and links to experts and more resources.

Instructional Interactivity: The interaction that actively stimulates the learner’s mind to do those things that improve ability and readiness to perform effectively (Allen, 2003).

Interactivity: One of the main features of modern digital ICTs, which refers to the interchange of responses and actions between humans and machines or amongst human beings.

Conversation Learning Community (CLC): A kind of interactive and constructivist learning environment in which the instructor(s), learners, course materials, and links to remote experts and resources interact with each other.

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