No topic raises more contentious debate among educators than the role of interaction as a crucial component of the education process. This debate is fueled by superficial problems of definition and differing vested interests of professional educators, but deeper issues are epistemological assumptions relative to the role of humans and human interaction in education and learning. Furthermore, developments in social cognitive based learning theories are providing increased evidence of the importance of collaborative activity as a component of effective education. Add in technological changes and the challenge of getting the mix for efficient learning right have ever increased.
Interactive learning materials, while resource intentsive to develop, have many advantages. In their recent article, Schneider and Preckel (2017) find that social interaction and the stimulation of meaningful learning are closely associated with successful learning. Additionally, interactive lecture material can provide learners and teachers with feedback on student progress and highlight their development needs (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Both student-peer assessment and student self-assessment can be supported through interactive lecture material and both have been found to have a high effect student learning (Schneider & Preckel 2017).
The Interaction Equivalence Theorem (see Fig. 1) by Terry Anderson (2003) shows the relation between different kind of interactions. Anderson states: „Deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) is at a high level. The other two may be offered at minimal levels, or even eliminated, without degrading the educational experience. High levels of more than one of these three modes will likely provide a more satisfying educational experience, though these experiences may not be as cost or time effective as less interactive learning sequences.“
Fig. 1 The Interaction Equivalence Theorem, Modes of Interaction (Anderson, 2003)
The triangle shows a lot more than just the interactions between students, teachers and content. It also indicates the relationships between teachers and the content being used; and the fact that teachers interact with other teachers and that content can interact with other content, most notably in the case of dynamic digital content.
In traditional universities as well as distance universities the most cost efficient and seemingly most easily established interaction is the student/content and student/student interaction (Lane, 2014). Initiatives like the Innovedum project eSkript (D-HEST) as well as the eCollaboration Project (LET) enable lecturers to easily implement features that foster interaction and collaboration.
Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 4(2), from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/149/230 [accessed Oct 10, 2017].
Anderson, T. (2003).Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 4(2), from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/149/230 [accessed Oct 10 2017].
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81–112.
Lane, A., (2014). Placing Students at the Heart of the Iron Triangle and the Interaction Equivalence Theorem Models. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2014(2), p.Art. 5., from https://www-jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/jime.ac/ [accessed Oct 10,2017].
Schneider, M., & Preckel, F. (2017). Variables Associated With Achievement in Higher Education: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication. from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311789042_Variables_Associated_With_Achievement_in_Higher_Education_A_Systematic_Review_of_Meta-Analyses [accessed Oct 10, 2017].