Establishing the Importance of Interaction and Presence to Student Learning in Online Environments

Lydia Kyei-Blankson, Esther Ntuli, Heather Donnelly


With the growing trends in favor of online course offerings in higher education, it is important that researchers continue to focus on investigating the components vital to effectiveness. Using a survey design, the elements of interaction and presence, and their relationship and influence on student learning in an online course is examined in the current study. The findings of the study suggest that students perceive instructor-learner and learner-content interaction to be more important to their learning as compared to learner-learner interaction. In addition, teaching presence plays a more important role in student learning followed by cognitive presence and then social presence. Again, when it comes to the combination of the factors of interaction and presence, the factors that students perceive to have the most influence on their learning are teaching presence and learner-instructor interaction with the least important factor being learner-learner interaction. Overall, the results of this empirical study have implications for online course design and delivery to ensure student learning in online environments.

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