Human beings are social creatures who habitually communicate with each other and share among themselves. Human interaction is the interchange of suppositions, intentions, and meanings. As a vital thinking and socializing tool, interaction is essential for every human activity and is a complex symbolic process in which meaning is created and negotiated as persons in conversations coconstruct their social realities (as cited in Comeaux, 2002). In fact, “The formation of opinion takes place through conversation of individuals with members of groups to which they belong or through that inner conversation of thought which is outer conversation imported into the mind” (Mead, 1938, p. 616). Mead’s “inner conversation of thought” supports the claim that human beings are meaning driven by not only the result of social interaction, but also meanings reprocessed through interpretation (Blumer, 1969).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Asynchronous Interaction: is online communication that takes place independent of time or location, or at anytime, anywhere. Participants send messages through e-mail, listserv, or newsgroup to a central location (discussion board, forum), read the retrieved or posted messages, and provide comments or feedback.
Synchronous Interaction: is online communication that takes place independent of location but at the same time (real time). Participants must agree on a time to log into the chat room and messages are received at the moment they are sent. Examples of synchronous interaction are instant messaging, video conferencing, and Web conferencing.
Online Interaction: is (1) learners’ participation or active involvement, (2) specific patterns and amounts of communication, (3) instructor activities and feedback, (4) social exchange or collaboration, and (5) instructional activities and affordances of the technology ( Bannan-Ritland, 2002 ).
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): is the human-to-human communication by adopting networked computer environments and related technology to facilitate interaction for educational opportunities via e-mail, discussion board, or listserv.
Interaction: is the exchange of information, ideas, and opinions between and among learners and the instructor. In distance learning, interaction usually occurs through technology with the aim of facilitating learning. Interaction can be written in a threaded discussion or verbal in audio and/or video conferencing. Whatever the format is, interaction is of a mutual, continuous, and reciprocal nature. The reciprocity between learner-instructor, learner-learner, and learner-to-content is a widely accepted concept of interaction.
Online Learning: is any learning experience or educational material delivered primarily via the Internet to learners at a remote location. This mode of learning may give learners the opportunity to work with course materials at their own convenience or work collaboratively on class projects using tools like e-mail, discussion board, or listserv.
Discussion Board: is a method of asynchronous online communication or an electronic message center. Users connect with the center via a modem or other devices, they can read messages posted by others and respond or leave messages on other topics.
Threaded Discussions: are electronic messages on certain topics or themes that are posted, archived, retrieved, and viewed on a Web/course site. Discussion participants can view and respond to the posted messages.