Texas Tech University

Promoting Student Interaction

Actively engaging your students in the learning experience is critical to their success in an online course. These resources offer ideas on how to incorporate meaningful interaction in a welcoming online learning environment.


Interaction creates a sense of belonging, helps students set an intention for learning, promotes active learning and higher levels of thinking and understanding, and promotes constructivist learning. Interaction, when done correctly, creates a real learning community. Students need to feel there is a living, breathing human on the other end of the course who knows them, cares about them, and is participating in the learning journey (“instructor presence”).

Interaction can flow from instructor-to-student, student-to-student, or student-to-content.

Interaction can be synchronous (live, real-time; you and your student(s) need to be at the computer at the same time, such as a Skype call) or asynchronous (you do not need to be at the computer at the same time, such as e-mail).

Interaction should not be an afterthought! Plan for interaction as you design your online course and follow up with regular efforts to stay in touch, using some of the ideas below. You can begin with just a couple of the ideas, but be consistent in their use.

Blackboard Collaborate

Using Collaborate to incorporate synchronous interaction in your online course can help to create a sense of human connection while fostering a positive online learning community for students.

Getting Started with Blackboard Collaborate


Virtual Meetings

The Instructional Design team offers consultations on how to incorporate virtual meetings into your online course. We also demonstrate Blackboard Collaborate.
Virtual Meetings Best Practices

Wikis & Blogs

Wikis and blogs help to facilitate a learner-centered environment while encouraging communication and collaboration between students.
Using Wikis and Blogs

Threaded Discussions

Threaded discussions in online and blended courses can deepen learning and create meaningful dialogue and a real learning community.
Guidelines for Threaded Discussions


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