78 paper

Computer-mediated interaction in context

Mary Thorpe, Steve Godwin
Institute of Educational Technology
The Open University

This paper reports research into the impact of computer-mediated interaction on both students and tutors in the context of a course-specific case study. Quantitative data provided evidence of successful achievement of learning outcomes and high student completion rates. Tutors identified interaction as one in a number of successful features in the course design, about which they were very positive, inspite of the increased workload it entailed. Exploration of student data revealed both positive and some unintended negative effects associated with a highly interactive and activity-led approach to learning. These findings emphasise the importance of the context for interaction, in terms of the effective combination of both content and interpersonal interaction, the strong link with assessment and the content and design of activities. Tutors and students reported high levels of enjoyment and engagement as key features sustaining the success of a stimulating pedagogy.

Keywords: interaction, computer-mediated communication, activity design, distance education