to Effective Internet Instruction
& Lois Layne
May 21, 2001, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Faculty Development
isn't a broadcast medium. It's a conversation. --John Perry Barlow
can be found at the end of the presentation summary.)
Terminology for this presentation:
Interaction or Interactivity
- Human to human interaction,
including by telephone, Internet or other technology
- Not just a software program
that responds to student input.
- It may be a supplement
to a course or the basis for the whole course.
Objectives of presentation
(reflect Bloom's Taxonomy)
- Discuss what is new and
- Discover the advantages
- List sample interaction
modalities and activities
- Outline the steps in
- Adapt class activities
for the Internet
- Share and discuss activities
This is a starting point,
not the final word.
Functions of Interaction
- Supports best practices
- Provides motivation for
- Education: can utilize
students as sources of information and experience
- Learning appropriate
student or professional behavior and roles
- Student networking
Begin by stating your objectives
and noting how interaction can help with each using
Bloom's Taxonomy. To refresh
your memory the taxonomy is:
What is new and different
about on-line instruction/interaction?
- The technical requirements
must be considered-- can the student's equipment handle the interaction you
- The emphasis is on the
student learning, not on what the teacher is doing.
- The target population
of on-line instruction is the nontraditional/adult learner who comes with
expectations different from the traditional student.
- The role of the teacher
shifts to be more of a facilitator, evoker or catalyst. The student becomes
more responsible and, because they are often nontraditional adult learners,
bring their life experiences to enrich the class.
- The instructor can now
choose between synchronicity and asynchronicity for class interaction-- and
asynchronicity is generally the better choice given the target population.
- There are guidelines
against which we'll be measured...
Your options for interaction
- The telephone, fax, and
face-to-face if convenient. Faculty sometimes forget that these remain options
when you move on-line.
- E-mail and mailing lists.
Advantage is immediacy and it comes to the student. Disadvantage is the instructor
and the students can get overwhelmed with e-mail.
- Discussion boards (aka
Forum aka newsgroups)-- permits asynchronous, more thoughtful responses to
discussion, at any time of day/night, allows you to easily track student contributions.
What most on-line instructors use.
- Chatrooms-- Synchronous
(everyone has to be present at the same time). Hard to schedule and with more
than 5 people can end up being more confusing than helpful. Some find it effective
for particular populations or purposes, such as a study session before an
exam. Practice your style in a nonprofessional setting to smooth out your
- MUDs, MOOs: These are
text based virtual environments. They are chat in a described environment.
It is analogous to reading a story in which all the characters are actual
people who generate the dialogue. Requires greater comfort with technology
but may be very useful for extensive role-play activities.
Seven Principles of Good
Practice (Chickering & Gamson)
- Encourages contact between
students and faculty-- such as use of e-mail, telephone, even face-to-face
- Develops reciprocity
and cooperation among students-- using the e-mail round robin (see below)
or group activities
- Encourages active learning
-- such as WebQuests or Case studies for group discussion.
- Gives prompt feedback--
possible with e-mail, chat, or even by how on-line practice tests are set
- Emphasizes time on task--
structure of the grading system and points for discussion can encourage this.
- Communicates high expectations--
Again, the grading system and types of tasks assigned....however, it is easy
to overwhelm the student in this environment and it is best to start small.
- Respects diverse talents
and ways of learning-- incorporated in the tone of your replies and how you
involve and accept contributions from all students.
& Gamson, Z. (No date). Seven
Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. [Online]. Available:
[2001, May 17].
Examples of Activities mentioned
- E-mail round robin- Example,
in a language class, one student starts a story in the language and sends
it to the next student, who adds and sends it one, etc. All students review
the final story.
- Discussion Group with
topic- the teacher (or a student) presents an issue or problem and asks students
to share personal experiences and interpretations of the topic or to react
to other students.
- Group Webpage project--
have a group create a webpage on a particular course topic, conforming to
scholarly standards of citation, etc.
- Volunteering-- have students
volunteer in course related business or institution close to home and then
share their experiences (appropriately watching confidentiality).
- Simulation or created
environment-- using a MUD or MOO, create the world of a literary work, a business
venture, or ancient culture, and have students work through the concepts and
issues in this simulated world.
- WebQuest-- to encourage
critical thinking, Small groups of students are given a particular course-appropriate
task to research on the Internet meeting specific criteria and answering specific
questions. See Dodge, B. (1997, May 5).
Some thoughts about WebQuests. [Online]. Available: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/EdWeb_Folder/courses/EDTEC596/About_WebQuests.html
[2001, May 17].
- Case Studies-- Present
a case study pertinent to the field (from a paragraph to several pages long)
and have students identify the problem and discuss possible solutions. Excellent
resource for learning about case-writing: Herreid,
C., Schiller, N, & Hollander, S. (2000). National
Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. [On-line]. Available: http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/case.html.
Designing an Internet Interaction
for your Class
- Explicitly list the objectives
for your students as well as yourself (See Bloom's Taxonomy)
- Select a topic or activity
- Describe strategies for
- Choose your interaction
modality, e.g., discussion board
- Anticipate the strengths
and possible pitfalls: Be patient, train your students, keep it simple!
looking to find the key to the Universe, I have some bad news and some good
The bad news
is - there is no key to the Universe.
news is - the universe has been left unlocked.
Contributions by Audience
Discussion focus can be
on a content area from student readings or research. Issues are similar whether
face-to-face or on a discussion board.
Assign students to smaller
groups. Group memberships can be mixed across sites (whether interactive television
classrooms or Internet instruction). Give demonstrations.
You might assign a group
to monitor the discussion board for a 2 week period and prepare a collaborative
report during the 3rd week to share back.
You could have a weekly
group leader and e-mail him/her topics that you want discussed around a particular
If you use chat, have a
leader in charge-- set it up based on a discussion prompt. After 5-6 week s
you get a very tight group.
Don't forget the phone is
Post an example or issue
and ask students to agree/disagree with the topic and tell why... have the discussion
group work toward consensus. An example of an issue for a class in Bioinformatics
could be "How do you use computers in your practice to access information?"
In Interior Design you might ask about product liability issues. Or you might
give students data about causes of death and ask them how they could use this
information to avoid or prevent deaths.
Remember to build in thought
time for the students. That happens as a consequence of face-to-face classes
being spaced over time and may be lost on-line if you don't plan for it.
Teach students about how
to be on-line students successfully. Teach them to structure their time and
how to respond appropriately. Explicitly teach them netiquette (These things
were done for face-to-face classes before they got to college. There hasn't
been time for the current generation to be taught these things in grade school.)
What do you do about an
overbearing student who monopolizes the discussion forum?
- How would you handle
it in a face-to-face classroom?
- Try phone/face-to-face
- Wait for the other students
to stop that student
- Have a discussion forum
about 'appropriate behavior in a discussion forum.'
- Provide the student with
his/her individual statistics on contribution and contrast to the contribution
rate of other students. (Statistics can be obtained in Blackboard course software).
- Some course software
allows you to exclude particular students whose behavior is extreme.
- Remember that your behavior
leaves a record...so don't wait until you are angry to deal with this and
might say something you regret.
- [Thought from Sally Kuhlenschmidt:
What harm does it do to let that student talk on and on on-line? You may need
to let him/her know that you can't read it all and that the other students
aren't going to read it all. I might create a forum just for them so others
don't have to search through that person's material to find what they need.
But if the individual is getting some benefit and it isn't derogatory...why
not? I might suggest that the student start journaling if writing gives them
such release. Of course, I wouldn't do any of this until I had talked with
the student face-to-face or at least on the phone. It is hard enough to get
students to write-- I hate to discourage one.]
How can you get feedback
on your teaching?
- Provide your e-mail address
on every page of content with an encouraging note to write with feedback.
- Blackboard provides a
"survey" which allows students to write comments without being directly
identifiable. (With the exception that the very first student to respond can
be matched until several more respond).
- Ask a colleague to receive
e-mail comments and strip off identifiers.
- Individual schools need
to develop feedback mechanisms.
Resources | Issues in Using
the Internet in Instruction
the author with comments or questions about this site by following the directions
at this page (which will open in a new window.)
contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.
created: June 1996. Page Created: May
28, 2001. Last Modified: May 28, 2001.