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Principles of Online Design
Principles of Online Design



Instructional Design

Interaction & Feedback

Instructional Media

Course Management

Support Services

Instructional Media

Interaction and Feedback

Learner Interaction | Instructor Interaction | Materials Interaction | Collaboration | Feedback | Pace & Procrastination | | Electronic Communication

2.3 Interaction between Learners and Instructional Materials
2.3.1 Provide time and opportunity for learners to practice and master the skills that are necessary to participate in the electronic discussion.


Interaction between learners and instructional materials can take the form of online conferences, email attachments, and chats.

B. If an on-campus orientation to the course is held, students can practice these skills in a computer lab.

C. A self-assessment tool that is online can help learners determine if they are prepared to take an online course.


Online instructors should utilize practice assignments during the first week or two that allow students to use distance learning strategies that will be used in the course. If electronic conferencing is being used as an integral part of the course and is designed to be a vehicle of interactivity, then the instructor must be ensure that students are able to use this tool correctly.

As well as face-to-face practice in a campus computer lab, students need to practice skills from the computer that they will be utilizing for the online course. This allows the student to determine whether the computer has the necessary software, plug-ins, and internet service connection to succeed in the course. A distance learning self-readiness assessment is available to help students.

2.3.2 Provide all participants with access to online tutorials and support services.


A. Tutorials and support services are provided to help students use interactive distance learning skills.

B. An online skills assessment survey provides guidance for distance learning students at Florida Gulf Coast University.


Faculty and Staff
Tutorials and support services are available to help students in this process. After taking the online skills assessment survey, students are provided individualized suggestions and recommendations for improvement. In addition to the support noted in the adjacent columns, workshops for staff and faculty are offered periodically. Individual training may be scheduled at 239-590-7085.

2.3.3 Develop strategies and techniques, such as online discussion or chat, to promote interaction between learners and instructional materials.


A. Clearly communicate the "rules of interaction" for online activities so participants can share the same experience.

B. Clearly communicate specific performance expectations prior to the start of any learning activities (e.g. electronic discussion).

C. Clarify the "role" of students and the instructor in online instructional/learning activities.


The instructor's responsibility is to provide guidance to students, to serve as a model, and to monitor or assign a monitor for discussions. The instructor should act as a facilitator and should participate but not dominate the discussion.

The instructor needs to provide guidelines for all assignments, including bulletin board discussions. This might appear in a course Syllabus or on other online documents. For example, many instructors require students to post their own comments to a posted question and also to comment on another student's posting. The instructor needs to clearly define what constitutes an acceptable posting.

In electronic discussion, students who might not participate in a face-to-face class setting may be more likely to participate in electronic conversations. Students with more experience in a field of study may serve as mentors to neophytes. Bulletin boards provide shared space for students to exchange ideas, search for solutions, and discuss issues related to the course (Zhu, 1998).

The instructor should read student postings and give feedback if a concept or idea is presented inaccurately. The instructor may also need to mediate student participation and set a tone for congenial and respectful interaction.

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