4.2 Promoting interaction in the online classroom

“I think tutors who have a dynamic class… there’s a mixture of discussion and lecture and maybe … a video or something like that” (Online student, Farrell et. al., 2019)

“as well as their ability to multitask and monitor the chat section to make sure that … everyone is included and that they’re answering questions.” (Online student, Farrell et. al., 2019)


There are a variety of interactive online activities available within the online classroom. It is important to vary the activities but not to have too many different technical tools in use. The key to success in an interactive online classrooms is to prepare and plan the activities that you will use. Make sure you and your students know what is expected.

Synchronous activities

Use the chat feature

Keep an eye on the chat throughout and maintain social presence by using students’ names when referring to their responses. You can also ask students to type in a response to a prompt you might have but, remember that if you have a large class it will be difficult to view and respond to all questions – see Raising hands.

Raising hands

With a large group it might be best to ask students to raise their hand, particularly when they are either responding to a question you pose, or asking one of their own.

Using Polls

They can be prepared in advance or made on the fly. Consider their use for both:

  • Administrative activities, such as asking the students if they can hear you or see your shared screen.
  • Checking students’ knowledge and understanding, multiple choice question, or open questions are available.

Breakout rooms

Start with a simple activity, that will help students become familiar with the technology. Use as an icebreaker. Ask the students, in groups of 2 or 3, to tell each other where they are from. Back in the main room they can report this information. Always make sure to plan an activity, give clear instructions in advance of the breakout and keep it short. Remember that classroom breakout technology does not generally record the breakout sessions.

Flipped Classroom Approach

In a flipped classroom students are required to engage constructively with the content, prior to coming to class. For example, request students to prepare a learning artefact, such as a short screencast or document, related to the learning material, and discuss these in the class. The synchronous class provides time for feedback. You may need to tie an incentive into this activity, such as a grade or structured output that serves can be used in a subsequent assignment.



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