This engaging article provides clear explanations with useful examples that will help you develop and design effective online courses where students engage and learn, not just interact: "Just because your learners are present and participating, don t assume they are into the learning
experience in a big way. As e-Learning designers strive to create highly interactive courses, it s important to remember that interaction is not necessarily education."
This article describes practical applications for fostering engagement in online learning. It provides the rationale behind engagement. Learners are most likely to feel engaged when strong linkages among the three factors are present:
1. Prescriptions or guidelines of the event are clear and well-defined (strong prescriptions-event link)
2. The guidelines are viewed as relevant to the learners' role or identity (strong prescriptions-identity link)
3. The individual has personal control over the event (strong identity-event link).
Additionally, the author supplies “sidebar” scenarios to reinforce each of the strategies outlined.
Type of Material:
Open journal article which can be used as workshop and training material.
Independent study, workshop, one-on-one consultation, faculty development training.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The article's goal is to show that student interaction in e-learning does not ensure student learning. Rather, student engagement is a prerequisite for student learning. The author uses the triangle model of responsibility of Thomas Britt to structure her argument.
"Britt has found that engagement is evident when an individual feels a sense of responsibility for, and commitment to, a performance domain, so that performance matters to the individual."
The article contents could be used as a guide for developing effective interactive online learning activities.
Other goals include:
• Train faculty in engagement strategies for online courses. • Explain how to measure engagement using the strategies outlined. • Identify and explain three specific links to fostering engagement. • Demonstrate how measuring engagement can serve as an outcome variable in course evaluation.
Target Student Population:
The target audience for this article are those developing or helping to develop e-learning experiences. While the examples provided in the article refer to workforce training, the major points are equally relevant for online courses in higher education, including:
• Faculty • Graduate Teaching Assistants • College Upper Division, Graduate School, Professional
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
An interest in and basic knowledge of pedagogy and online learning.
The author argues for extending the goals of learning activities beyond interaction to engagement. Her argument is well-supported with references to the work of Thomas Britt, L. Dee Fink, Randy Garrison and Marti Cleveland-Innis of the Community of Inquiry (CoI), among others.
The foundation for her argument is Thomas Britt’s triangle of responsibility. For each of the links in the triangle (prescriptions-event, identity-prescriptions, and identity event*), the author provides a definition, important design factors, and examples.
* “The prescription-event link refers to the need for a clear and well-defined set of guidelines for the learning event.”
“The identity-prescription link refers to the extent to which a set of prescriptions or rules are relevant to an individual’s identity role.” In other words, does the student find an assignment relevant.
“The identity-event link refers to the extent to which the individual has personal control over the event, such as being able to foresee the consequences of the event and intentionally producing the outcome.” In other words, does the student understand the assignment and feel that it is within his/her power to accomplish it.”
• This resource enforces the concept of student personal responsibility in online learning through the Triangle Model of Responsibility. • The resource ties engagement and interactivity in online courses together as two necessary components.
Somewhat dated publication (2008) but still highly applicable today.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This article packs a lot of research-based practice into a small space, which it is meant to do. The references are effective and the scenarios provided are very useful.
Greater detail and more examples would be nice; however, not likely possible given the magazine format. The examples provided are used for online students in a corporate setting. In an educational setting those examples would need to be adjusted for online coursework.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This article is clearly written and well-formatted with effective use of headings, bullets, and bold text. Examples appear in clearly defined text blocks.This material is easy to read and use. It's a click and read article with the ability to print.
There are multiple blocks with advertising and other distracting materials in sidebars.
Other Issues and Comments:
Though this article dates from 2008, it is highly pertinent and useful.
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