Engagement and Active Learning: A Deep Dive into Quality Matters SRS 5.2
In an online course, where learners can frequently feel disconnected from the content, the instructor, and each other, engagement plays a particularly integral role in learner success.
In an online course, where learners can frequently feel disconnected from the content, the instructor, and each other, engagement plays a particularly integral role in learner success.It is so important, in fact, that the Quality Matters Rubric has dedicated an entire specific review standard, SRS 5.2, to ensuring that the course design has included enough opportunities for active learning and interaction.
SRS 5.2 states that the “learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning,” and divides interactions into three categories:
- learner-content interaction
- learner-instructor interaction
- learner-learner interaction
Learner-content interaction is the most basic element of a course; after all, without providing ways for learners to access the content of the course, there is no course. The more difficult part, and the part that QM focuses on, is providing opportunities for learners to actively engage with course content. Active learning involves learners doing something, such as deciphering, interpreting, or applying information. One way to ensure that your activities provide active learning is to design your learning outcomes using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning and then design your activities around your learning outcomes.
Learner-instructor interaction is another important element of active learning, and particularly in an online course, is an essential part of course design. Unlike a traditional classroom, where learner-instructor interaction can happen unprompted during class, with online courses, pathways for learner-instructor interaction need to be built into the course design. Frequent and timely feedback is an important part of learner-instructor interaction, allowing for the exchange of ideas regarding the learner’s understanding of course material. Other opportunities for learner-instructor interaction include learner-instructor discussion via discussion board, presenting a lecture via VoiceThread so students can ask questions, and real-time learner-instructor interactions through chat programs such as Slack.
The final category, and one that instructors frequent struggle with in online courses, is learner-learner interaction. It is incredibly important to build opportunities for meaningful learner-learner interaction into your course design. Not only does this create a sense of community, but it is also beneficial for learning and motivation. For more information about the continuum of learner-learner interaction as well as tips for enhancing learner-learner interaction through gamification, check out our other article in this month’s issue, “Gamifying learner-learner interaction for an engaging learning experience” by Samuel Gnaore.