Create Opportunities for Interaction

Create Opportunities for Interaction

While learning activities will differ depending on the content and context in which they occur, you can incorporate some strategies in almost any course to foster meaningful interaction. First, let's take a brief look at the types of interactions that make up a quality remote learning experience.

Types of Interaction

Before planning interaction in a remote instruction setting, consider its three main types:

  • Student-faculty: Everything from informal mentoring to more formal direct instruction falls into this category.
  • Student-content: This category includes concrete interactions with course materials and more abstract interactions with the concepts and ideas they present, which goes beyond reading a text or watching a video.
  • Student-student: Interaction between students can include formal course-related collaboration and interaction as well as more informal social interaction, which can increase their comfort with one another and the online environment.  

Here, we want to take a look at how to increase the student-to-student interaction during remote instruction. Fortunately, current technology enables a variety of activities to foster this interaction and build a more engaged experience.

Ways to Increase Student-to-Student Interaction

To add more opportunities for student-student interaction activities to your course, consider some of the following:

Create groups. Within Canvas, you can create groups for your students. Then, one student can submit assignment deliverables for the entire group, or students can participate in discussions in smaller groups, which enables them to be more focused.

Set up peer review. Student work that's submitted via an assignment or discussion can be assigned (automatically or manually) to one or more students to review and critique, using the same rubric you will use to grade it. Learn how to set up a peer review assignment, or learn how to set up a peer review discussion. (For more general information on using Canvas to manage peer review, see the Peer Review section of its Instructor Guide.)

Assign debates. One type of authentic, real-world assessment is to design a debate activity. Students are assigned to opposing teams to research and analyze a controversial topic based on a stance that will lead to a series of online presentations, statements, and/or arguments. Debates can be held remotely in Canvas Discussions. The University of Central Florida has created a quick guide on how to effectively create online debates.

Assessment Considerations for Group Projects

Depending on the size of your class, you can encourage students to work together class-wide or in smaller groups or pairs.  When working with smaller groups, it helps to emphasize individual accountability, positive interdependence, and positive interaction in grading the group's work. 

This strategy leads to three grades on a group project, emphasizing the three aspects of group work:

  1. individual contribution to the group project;
  2. synthesis of the individual parts into a project that shows collaboration, consensus, and learning; and
  3. working together to encourage and facilitate each other's efforts to complete the project.

For more on using Canvas to manage your student groups, please see the Group section of the Canvas Instructor Guide.