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Student interaction in blended courses

March 13, 2017

Blended Interaction

Student engagement in learning is critical and becoming actively involved is key. Learning involves interaction with the instructor, with content, and with other students. It would be wonderful if all three could happen exclusively in face-to-face courses and very frequently, but sometimes one or the other is problematic. Today’s answer is often blended learning.

Following up on Week 2 of the BlendKit course, this article explains a few ways in which online interaction can reinforce face-to-face activities in a blended course. How many of these techniques one should use, which ones, and how frequently will vary from situation to situation.

Student-instructor interaction

Interaction can be one-to-one or one-to-many — private between the instructor and one student or more public with the entire class.

  • Live Chat – offer scheduled synchronous online “office hours”.
  • Survey – periodically ask for feedback and then act upon it. You could ask how well the online interaction is going …
  • Email – make yourself available … within reasonable limits.
  • Feedback – provide comments on student work as appropriate. If you’re comfortable, try providing audio feedback or use screencasting software.

Student-student interaction

On a residential campus like mine there are still many students who live in nearby apartments, making after-class meetings inconvenient.

  • Discussion – asynchronous conversation that adds value for students. Requiring trivial work for the sake of interaction may backfire on you.
  • Peer review – have students follow a clear rubric to provide each other with constructive criticism outside of class – and make it count.
  • Collaborative work – simultaneously edit a Google Doc while conversing via Skype, for example. Explain in advance how this will be assessed.
  • Study groups – suggest that students organize these online ahead of an exam.

Student-content interaction

Learning can be active and interactive even when only one human is involved.

  • High-level thinking – assign a task that requires students to apply concepts or choose among strategies. Rote learning has a role, but deep learning is the goal.
  • Reflection – ask students to reflect on their learning, relate it to previous knowledge, generate questions about it, or predict what will come next.
  • Concept mapping – as a unit begins, have students create a visual that represents how they understand the main concept. Do the same at the end and then to compare the two, or compare with an expert’s map.
  • Electronic portfolio – students can develop an online collection of their work as they progress through the course.


[image credit: original visual assembled by the author]

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Clinkenbeard permalink
    March 15, 2017 2:34 pm

    I am currently working on a study that looks at how these factors (among others) can predict course achievement in introductory math courses…for the sample in my study, positive student-teacher interactions as described here can be an especially good predictor of academic success. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Chris Clark permalink*
    March 13, 2017 10:48 pm

    I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  3. Jennifer Madden permalink
    March 13, 2017 9:02 pm

    Thank you for putting together this breakdown of online interaction. It is a nice summary of options and is a great resource for those who may be new to blended learning. I will be bookmarking this and sharing with my colleagues!

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