Think – September 2016

Extending Interaction Beyond the Classroom

At Wake Forest, we rightly place great value on the interaction our faculty and students have with each other, most commonly apparent in our vibrant classrooms. There are many ways in which this interaction extends beyond the classroom, too. For instance, faculty also play a role in advising students and serving as fellows in our residence halls. It’s possible to extend academic interactions beyond the classroom as well. A central strategy in teaching and learning is minimizing the transactional and relational distances in theLightbulb icon, Red classroom. Moore’s taxonomy describes three types of interaction: student-instructor, student-content, and student-student. While Moore’s original effort is designed to clarify learning in distance education, increasing these interactions outside of the classroom can enhance learning outcomes across all sorts of environments.

Why might we want to extend interaction beyond the time we spend face-to-face with our students?

  • Accountability – Give students a concrete way to show that they have prepared for your class by initiating the discussion before they arrive. Provide students a space online to share questions or muddiest points from the reading, take a short quiz, collaboratively brainstorm, or answer questions embedded in a video or VoiceThread.
  • Reflection – Have you ever had to end a class when the discussion was just getting started? Or maybe after you finished processing a given class meeting, you found yourself wishing that you had said one more thing or asked one more question? Students often feel this way too. Build time for processing and reflection by asking students to engage in discussion, write in journals, or post in a blog after class. Create an opportunity for students whose voices are seldom heard in the classroom to participate in the discourse.
  • Engagement – College students are still in the process of discovering and developing their voices. Help them learn how to engage more deeply in the content you share with them by using a tool like and building questions into videos you curate or create.
  • Community – Learning is a social activity, and it works better in community. Moreover, the way you organize and participate in out-of-class discussion, regardless of the technology, matters. Learn how specific strategies can create social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.

There are many ways technology can help us do this, including Google+ communities, VoiceThread, blogs, wikis or even shared Google documents – not to mention all the tools in our learning management system, Sakai. Take a look at some of the examples shared in this newsletter and then consider why you might want to extend interaction outside the classroom. Let your goals guide you to the right technology tool … and in deciding whether one is required at all.

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