A case study in the planning of interaction in the conversion of an existing course for online delivery.
Murphy, Lawrence Arthur
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The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the effects of planning learning activities intended to encourage online student interaction. The investigation targeted several pivotal decision-making points in instructional systems design (ISD) processes during conversion of an existing on-campus face-to-face course for online delivery. The ISD model chosen for use in this study was Training for Improved Performance (TIP), developed by Athabasca University (1990). Effects were investigated in terms of encouraging student interaction through the TIP processes of analysis, design, and development. The research problem posed the question, what design decisions affected interaction that students will ultimately experience? The literature review examined: ISD and the TIP Model; computer conferencing; interaction, collaboration, and constructivism; interaction schemes; guidelines for moderating computer conferences; and changes in online teaching and learning. In this case, the researcher studied an instance of course development involving planning decisions taken while completing TIP processes. The researcher identified interaction strategies (Wagner, 1997) that would be employed as a result of applying these processes. Findings from the analysis described: the design and development of the online course; implementing the course and moderating asynchronous online discussion; planning for online interaction; and the interaction as it actually unfolded. The researcher urged that the teacher employ an instructional design (ID) for online learning that relied on tenets of active learning. Interaction is an essential part of the learning strategy for any online course wrapping around a textbook (Rowntree, 1996). In addition to readings from a textbook, several items had been incorporated in ID, including learning outcomes, overviews, discussion, contrasting viewpoints, alternative examples, and feedback. Computer conferencing offered a venue for this interaction and learning activity; it provided an environment for students and teacher where they could share and build meanings as part of constructivist learning. To more effectively accomplish ID, the researcher had urged the teacher to follow TIP processes in making planning decisions related to the design and development of interaction in online learning. Interaction arises from clearly conceptualized, well-designed, and well-developed instruction.