How to use 3 Types of Learner Interactions in Online Learning


In February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UAE region, amongst many areas, causing nation-wide school closures. Teachers began flooding online to research, collaborate, train-up and gear-up to fight for quality distance education delivery that each and every student has a right to. Edtech companies were supporting teachers by waiving fees to their services. Telecom companies were working rigorously to ensure their severs don’t burn, due to the wave of teachers and students hopping on to video-conferencing apps.

Flashback to last year when I had the pleasure of team teaching with a brilliant individual who taught me about See Think Wonder. I would describe this teaching strategy as the cool cousin of the traditional, yet still very popular Think Pair Share.

The best way to learn is to do so let’s do it!

Take a look at this photo.

Answer the following questions about the photo.

  1. What do you see?
  2. What does it make you think?
  3. What does it make you wonder?

Here are my responses.

  1. I see a person smiling whilst writing in a book and using a laptop.
  2. It makes me think that she is an independent learner who is confident in keeping up with her daily schedule.
  3. It makes me wonder how to make online learning enjoyable for students.

If you could create positive online learning experiences for students, what might that look like?

In the present, after 5 weeks of distance learning, my school has been proactive in implementing a variety of asynchronous and synchronous learning strategies. To make learning enjoyable for our students, we have used clear expectations and a variety of teaching and learning activities that target different types of learner interactions. Since then, we have shifted our focus to student well-being. It is the students who you are teaching that matter. Empathising with our students is more important than ever before.


3 Types of Learner Interactions in Online Learning

Over 30 years ago, Michael Moore published an article describing the 3 types of learner interactions in distance learning! Never has there been a time where this is more relevant!

Here are some examples of how you can apply the 3 learner interactions to create positive learning experiences for your students.

1. Learner-Content

Use Engaging Videos

There are so many awesome Youtube videos out there that you can embed in your lessons. If you don’t like the ones out there, film your own!

I became a YouTuber last month to share my maths videos & become a digital role model to engage my students. SUBSCRIBE to Classnotes to learn more about high school maths & receive free worksheets (I post around 4 per week!). I am of one of many teachers that are using YouTube make our lessons accessible to the public. Click here to access my free guided Maths worksheets.

If you might want to make YouTube videos, I encourage you to start today!

Microsoft PowerPoint/ Google Slides for Instruction

My school first began distance learning with a purely asynchronous approach via PowerPoint and posting them to our learning management system (LMS), Edmodo. We have since adopted the use of live tutorials using Microsoft Teams.

To make your PowerPoint student-friendly, have clear instructions for the students to follow! Many teachers post their daily instructions on their LMS. The reason why I choose to have the instructions in the PowerPoint is to allow students to do a quick final check that they’ve completed all the tasks before closing the PowerPoint for the day.

Below is the first slide of a Year 8 Maths lesson delivered online.

Games & Simulations

Students can explore mathematical ideas through simulations. There are many sites including Geogebra Materials & PhET Simulations. You can also find online maths manipulative from sites such as Toy Theatre.

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2. Learner-Learner

Collaborative Tasks

Set tasks that encourage students to communicate with each other. Google Suite software including Google Docs & Google Slides as well as Microsoft OneNote allow for multiple people to collaborate on the same document. One

In my ICT classes for example, students have been assigned groups and are creating a website using Google Sites. To ensure each member does some work, allocate group tasks as well as individual tasks that students need to complete.

There are a variety of collaborative whiteboards, you may like to adopt such as Jamboard and Ziteboard.

Asynchronous Discussion

In additional to communication posts via your school’s LMS, students can stay connected on communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams. You can also use Edtech tools such as Padlet for students to respond to prompts and comment on each other’s responses.

Prompt in Padlet in Year 8 Maths for the topic Direct Proportion

Edtech Tools

There are some AMAZING educational tools you can use to facilitate learner-learner interactions. A popular tool for Maths is Desmos. It has activities such as Turtle Time Trials that allow students to see how other students have responded to the same question.

Quiz tools such as Quizizz, allow for multi-player functions where students compete with each other whilst answering content-related questions. It also has Learner-Content interactions too where students can use the Flashcards option to revise concepts from the quiz.

For English, Peergrade is an online tool that allows students to peer assess each other’s writing.

Flipgrid is video discussion platform that I have just started to use. It is very friendly to use. For my Year 9 Maths class, students created videos explaining the similarities and differences between Simple Interest & Compound Interest. Whilst in Year 8 Maths, students filmed a video tutorial demonstrating to solve an equation that they created. I am a very big fan of this app because it promotes student voice and autonomy in their learning.

Btw, I’m a fan of Flipgrid badges!

3. Learner-Teacher

Video Conferencing

There are a variety of video conferencing tools. The popular ones are Microsoft Teams & Zoom. You can then hold live Q&A sessions with students to support questions.

Feedback

Feedback is crucial in the teaching and learning sequence. You can use your LMS Assignment Function for students to submit their work. If students are completing their work in their exercise books, which is common in Maths, then have students take a photo of their work and submit it through the digital drop box. Their work can then be graded and typed feedback can be provided.

You can address misconceptions during video conferences or use tools such as Screencastify to film hints and solutions to exercise questions students have trouble with.


Remember, there is no one-fit model for an online classroom. I think that’s the beauty of education. Adopt strategies that suit your style of teaching to engage the three learner interactions in online learning and listen to the feedback from your students!

Thank you for reading!

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Have ideas about how to use the 3 types of learner interactions?

Post in the comment section below to share your ideas! I would love to hear from you.

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