Interactivity increases the attractiveness of online courses and improves the learning experience. In addition to pre-structured information, many students require inspiring assignments, thought-provoking discussion and communal learning.

Assignments and feedback enable in-depth learning

The easiest way to increase the interactivity of online courses is to increase the number of assignments. Participants often value feedback, and it contributes to their learning motivation. Thus, it is advisable to provide feedback on each assignment. This can be done by, for example, displaying a sample answer or reasoning automatically after the student posts their own answer.

Good verbal reflective questions include:

  • One’s learning goals for the course
  • Rephrasing the studied topic
  • Describing a process or defining a concept
  • Coming up with examples on the learned topic
  • Describing how the learned topic can be applied to everyday life
  • Assessing one’s own learning at the end of the course

It is recommendable to include post-answer feedback even in simple multiple-choice tasks so that the students are not provided only with a simple correct/incorrect assessment. This deepens the learning experience and explains why the correct answer option is indeed the correct one.

Good multiple-choice tasks include:

  • Assignments that test the students’ preconceptions
  • Assignments that identify the initial level of competence
  • Factual questions about course content

The assignments can also make use of video and images to help better illustrate the learned topic. Visual content is easy to remember, and nowadays people can easily and swiftly produce content simply with the camera of their cell phone.

Peer reviews motivate and facilitate information sharing

Peer reviews support the sharing of information and crowdsource assessment. In peer reviewed assignments, students have the opportunity to view and comment on feedback provided by fellow students. This is often an effective form of learning. When analyzing the answers of others, students develop their own thinking and skills.

Good peer-review assignments include:

  • Proposing solutions to the situation described in the assignment
  • Describing a task or process verbally or using a video
  • Describing a practical application or a sample story

Peer reviews are best suitable for courses in which participants progress at the same pace or many participants complete the same stage at the same time. In online courses with only a few participants, the amount of peer feedback may often be insufficient. In that case, it is advisable to favor discussions participated in by the entire student group.

Activating discussions in online learning

The most active online course discussions usually deal with topics proposed by the instructor and predefined questions. Therefore, if the aim is to provide a dialogic online course, it is advisable to include predefined topics in the course content.

Discussion may also arise spontaneously, but this depends on the individuals participating in the course. Spontaneous discussion seldom occurs on courses in which the student group has never met face-to-face.

Good topics for discussion include:

  • How can the approach be applied to everyday life?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • What are the challenges of applying the approach?
  • How can the presented problem be solved?
  • What kind of solutions have been used in the situation described, and how did they work?
  • What kind of monitoring could be applied to the approach?

Read also:

Fast start with distance learning — 5 steps to go online with your course

Online trainer’s checklist — things to check out before publishing an e-learning course

How to succeed in online course creation – tips for your first e-learning course