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.

40+ Tools for Distance Learning (A response to COVID-19)


All UAE schools are closed for a month as a preventative response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The first two weeks will be Spring break, followed by two weeks of distance learning. Some other countries around the world have temporarily shut down schools including China, Japan, Iran and Korea. The spread of a virus behaves like an exponential function and will likely affect the education of students over the next few months.

How do you implement distance learning?

Distance learning involves students learning remotely, most commonly through the use of online learning platforms. Amidst global economic uncertainty, as an educator there are factors you can control such as equipping yourself with online learning tools to support your students from afar.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of distance learning for students?

Benefits of Distance Learning for students

  • Freedom to study at your own pace
  • You can study anywhere at any time (asynchronous approach)
  • Self-regulation of learning
  • Online learning tools are easy to use
Student studying at home

Disadvantages of Distance Learning for students

  • Chances of distractions are high
  • Easy to lose track of learning schedule
  • Limited face-to-face interaction with classmates and teacher (if any)
  • Learning is limited to Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Quality of learning is restricted

What online tools are available to you?

Here are 40+ tools that can help you create the best distance learning experience for your students.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

LMS are widely used in schools and allow for efficient communication between teachers and their class. LMS can be used to upload class work, create assignments, create quizzes, track quiz results as well as communicate with students and parents.

Tools include:

Content Presentation

How will you deliver lesson content? Do students have access to an online textbook or will you summarise notes in slides?

Tools include:

Formative Assessments

To review students’ understanding of content, you can embed interactive questions within your slides. This allows you to modify your lessons to ensure you are meeting the needs of your students.

Q&A

Tools include:

Collaboration Tools

Imagine every student in your class contributing to a brainstorm digitally! Simply share a public link for your students to contribute.

Tools include:

Collaboration

Create Instructional Videos

Record your teaching and post them onto your LMS. Be creative!

Tools include:

Live-video Stream

If your school has decided to implement a synchronous approach to learning, where all students are to learn at the same time, these tools are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you may consider hosting periodic live sessions to answer questions from students.

Live lesson

Quizzes

Students can revise on these sites or create their own quizzes and send it to their peers.

Tools include:

Interactive Maths Learning

Students can compete maths questions online and receive immediate results. Often schools will already be attached to an online maths platform.

Tools include:

Projects/Reflection

Create a project for students to complete. It may include an element of surveying the community, presenting information and reflecting on the task.

Investigation

Tools include:

Recommendations

  • Communicate regularly with your students.
  • Give clear instructions. For each lesson, include learning objectives and instructions for task submission.
  • Organise lessons well and use folders on your LMS.
  • Provide regular feedback on student work. Students can, for example, take photos of their written work and then submit it through their LMS for feedback.
  • Provide student choice e.g. Submit a video demonstrating how you solved a question or create 3 questions of increasing complexity, send it to a friend and peer assess their work.

Support your fellow educators & share your ideas for distance learning!