Talking to Myself? Vicarious Interaction and Knowledge Making in an Online Course
Much of the literature in online learning promotes the idea that successful online learning must provide an interactive experience for students. Indeed, many studies have confirmed that students perform better academically and rate courses higher that feature some form of interaction. Clearly, some form of interaction among students and instructor should be the staple of any online learning experience. Our current models of interaction in online courses are based heavily on social constructivist theories that recognize knowledge is created as a result of the interactions of students within the course. However, as those of us who have taught in online environments intuitively know, not all students will rise to this challenge. Indeed, some may be lurkers and never become a part of the classroom dynamic. Are these students doomed to become “non-learners” and not reap the same pedagogical benefit from the classroom experience? Or is it possible that some students could have a meaningful, interactive experience apart from other learners? This paper presents the results of a case study that examined which paths of interaction students in the same online class selected when presented with a choice of interacting vicariously or with other students.
Keywords: Online Learning, Interaction
Dr. Mark Mabrito
Associate Professor of English, English Department, Purdue University Calumet