Session Three: Design Interaction April 20-26


1.  I think that when activities are well thought-out, they have the ability to check off all three areas of interaction.

Learner-Content Learner-Instructor Learner-Learner
Video Presentation X
Lecture X
Chat X X X
Discussion X X X
Peer Review of file exchange X X
Blog X X X
Synchronous Collaboration X X X
Email X X
  1. Discuss of the types of interactions that are most often used in the content area for which you expect to design instruction. Be sure to explain the content area, the types of students and types of objectives with which you will be working.

I teach credit ESL which focuses on academic reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation, and speech. These are nearly fluent immigrant students, international students, and 1.5 generation students. Courses are 1-3 semesters below freshman composition. Currently I am designing hybrid courses for our most advanced level. ESL 71 Course objective: Academic research and documentation, essay writing, academic reading, critical thinking. Students will meet 2 hours f2f and have the equivalent of 2 more hours of online work.

Types of interaction online:

  • Lecture- I hope to be able to teach a flipped classroom so that students are engaging in content during the f2f sessions; however, this will greatly depend on students’ comprehension of online lecture. My plan is to write a weekly outline of the key issues of the lesson.  This will be supplemented with text or article readings.  I will also create a podcast of my lecture.
  • Discussion– Even though the students will have f2f discussion, I want to utilize the CMS discussion board. I believe from what I have read that the discussion board will serve two main purposes:
  • Peer Review Collaboration– I love the peer view tools on Blackboard. Depending on what package your school has purchased, this tool might be offered through Turn-It-In or Safe-Assign; from what I can tell, they function identically. Here’s a video on how it works-  I will use this tool to have students peer review drafts of their essays. This will be a bi-weekly assignment.
  • CMS Quiz- I have a theory that if I create multiple choice quizzes through BB that are open book, I can increase student-content interaction. Quizzes are not something I have typically used in f2f classes. I just think that if students have quizzes prior to our f2f class, they will be more likely to do the assigned reading.
  1. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of the Horton text discuss three categories of activities: Absorb, Do, and Connect. After reading these chapters you are to locate one or more online classes and identify one Absorb, one Do and one Connect activity. Present your findings using this format:


Course Content: EESL 545, Writing in TESOL.

 In this course students will examine how to teach writing to second language learners. In this course, we treat literacy as a social and cultural practice that is tied to social, cultural and power relations (critical literacy) as it is used for real-world contexts. As a methods course on teaching writing to English as a second/ foreign language writers, we will apply the above understandings to appropriate forms of instructional design and assessment for L2 learners at all ages and levels in both ESL and EFL contexts.

Intended Students/Probable Student Characteristics: This is a graduate level course. Students should have strong reading and writing skills. Since it is the second semester of an online program, students will all have had previous experience with online courses. Students are required to do high level of student-content and student-student interaction.

Instructor Characteristics: Instructor is an expert in content: B.A. in Linguistics, M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics; higher education professor since 2003. Instructor is also an experienced online instructor and recipient of an OODLE award for innovative online course design (OODLE= Outstanding Originator of Distributed Learning). Student-instructor interaction is minimal.

Identify the Type of Activity: Absorb – Do – Connect

Identify and Discuss the Interactions in the Activity:

Absorb– I was struck by the text’s description that in absorb activities “the learner may be physically passive but mentally active”. This actually goes against best practices for teaching reading and writing; for example, while reading (what might be perceived as a physically passive activity) the student should be making marginal notes, outlining, demonstrating critical thinking of content through a talk aloud, etc. (all physical activities)

In this particular EESL course, the instructor has delivered content through assigned text reading, posted articles, and lecture done on PowerPoint. Here is an example PP from the course:  Absorb_Presentation_PowerPoint

I really related to the best practices point that designers should “give learners control of presentations” (Horton, 84).   I absolutely detest when lectures are in video format because they seem so slow and I can’t scan them like I can written lectures; for that reason I prefer a written lecture with audio podcast to meet various learning styles.

I’d like to get some feedback on a question- Do students prefer textbooks or articles? Obviously set aside the cost issue. What works better in an online course: posted articles or a published text; or does it matter?

Do I guess the small group weekly “Literature Circle” that we had would count as a practice activity. Each week we traded job duties; we posted responses to our small group; we self-assessed at the end of the week. Sample:

According to the text, practice activities have a 3-step recurring sequence (Horton, 131):

  1. Assigning task- Check
  2. Perform- Check
  3. Feedback- This was missing from the course. Throughout the semester there was never any feedback on any of the Lit Circle work. I noticed that toward the end of the quarter one of my classmates made increasingly more argumentative comments that were his open attempt to see if the teacher even read the activities; however, no feedback was ever given. I realize that there is a debate about whether or not instructors should participate in discussion, but I don’t think there is any debate that teachers should provide ongoing prompt feedback on work.

Connect Doing and absorbing an activity is crucial. With adult students I think this is best achieved when assignments directly relate to students’ professions “job aids” (Horton, 164). For example, in this EESL class, we were asked to create a e-portfolio on types of writing assignments we would create for a specific writing course. For various pieces of the portfolio, we needed to “cite- examples” (Horton, 171). Students worked in groups based on the level they taught, and they chose the specific type of course to design the assignments around. The portfolio included 3 genres of writing assignments with directions and rubrics for assessing the assignments. Here is our portfolio-


11 thoughts on “Session Three: Design Interaction April 20-26

  1. Hi Christen,
    I enjoyed reading your blog, You chose a good class as a teacher to teach foreign students. I was an international student when I attended university and had difficulties on English learning. I think your view of teaching the course is great. Good job!


  2. lgersitz

    Hi Christen,

    In response to your question, as a student I don’t have a preference regarding textbook v posted articles. That said, I must admit I don’t like reading long, scholarly articles online but then again neither do I like using up a lot of paper and toner to print them. My students don’t seem to mind reading documents online however. In fact my textbook is a PDF that I post online. The chapters are short and if it were me I’d probably print each chapter each week. But most of them don’t. That’s the online generation gap I guess…


    • Ahhh, “printing out articles”- yes that is a generation gap. I admit the prior to going back to school in the fall, I was one of those printers too. The volume is too high to do that as a student and now I actually prefer reading and annotating online. Thanks for that perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Christen,

    I personally do not have a preference for posted articles or textbooks. I believe it is all about the content, as long as what I am reading gets the point across and I am actually learning something, rather than just have it be busy work. However, I did ask my younger siblings, who are in middle school and high school, and they automatically said articles. Their reason being that articles are much more interesting and the lengths are shorter. Hope this helps.


    • That was really cool of you to ask your younger siblings, thank you! The advantage I can think of with articles is the ability to choose exactly the content that best matches what I want to teach. So often I’ll like parts of a textbook but not the whole thing. Articles allow so much more flexibility.


  4. Hi Christen,
    What an interesting presentation. It is so surprising to read about students who never received feedback. How were they being guided in their learning?

    You questioned “What works better in an online course: posted articles or a published text; or does it matter?”
    I strongly believe it depends with the amount of information being covered for a particular topic. Whether it is a chapter of a book or a journal, if the information is too much, am sure no one will have the time to read.
    I also tend to look at journals as having detailed information presented–literature review part covers a lot.

    Thanks for sharing,


    • Carolyne,
      Unfortunately, there was no guidance in that class; just scores in the grade book and most of those came at the end of the quarter.

      Several of you pointed out that quantity was a factor in choosing readings; I agree this is particularly important for ESL students. I tend to use English texts because the quality of material best matches my courses, but I am aware that English text are about five times thicker than ESL texts, and I worry about that. Thanks for making that point!


  5. I really like your question because it is one that I wrestle with on occasion. In a lot of classes I find that there isn’t one “best” text. This is because the field I teach in changes pretty quickly. I hate to ask students to buy multiple texts so I will tend to rely more on online readings. I also like multiple readings because it gives a chance for students to explore multiple perspectives. From my own experience (back the print days) my favorite classes were often those that didn’t use texts, but provided a big cross section of readings.


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