I is for Interaction

As a designer trying to gain a better pedagogical understanding to support both teaching and design, my response pulls to design practice. The Interactivity aspect of the Bates and Poole (2003) SECTIONS framework relates very heavily to what I do but the definition focus differs a bit.


Interactivity: Does it move the learner beyond just reading, viewing and listening? Consider: End-user experience, interaction and feedback. • Does this technology support interactions with peers, instructors and others associated or contributing to the learning tasks?
• Does this technology allow for sharing/collaboration with learning communities beyond registered course participants?
• Can people easily interact with the products/resources developed in the course?


The area I’d like to work in the future is post-secondary institutions for arts, design, dynamic media and/or applied technologies. In my case IxD can take the points noted above from SECTIONS and extend them to create more specific and very important questions with regards to appropriate re-design, selection and application :


1 ) How does this technology support interaction with peers and others, and does it do so in a way that uses the same/similar methods of communication and interaction as applicable in actual practice? (Does use the same interactions of the realm and support knowledge-building and practice?) Does it support the culture of the learners in the learning environment? Often I see technologies selected because they are what is known and easy to operate rather than selecting them because they speaking a ‘language’ that is connotative of, and cohesive with actual practice. Ideally I’d like to help design to make this aspect easier.


2 ) How can this technology be improved, modified, spliced with another or wielded to enhance the message? What are the critical intervention points of when these are best applied? How can this involve other communities that can enhance learning (are they ‘open’ and can this be used effectively?) In my scenario, we like to think that use-patterns can be redesigned for each learning environment to better support these goals.


3 ) Does the technology allow for the appropriate types of sharing and collaboration that are needed and used in the practice community? Are these easy or unwieldy? The ‘ease of interaction’ aspect and ‘moving the learner beyond viewing and listening’ are questions that relates to how I ended up in the MET in the first place. I’m interested in how social media and Web 2.0 tools can be designed-into a future breed of open-source LMS platforms. Maybe this is utopian but with the advancement of Web 2.0 APIs, I don’t think it’s impossible.


In sum, I don’t think it’s just teachers that “need frameworks and approaches that “sensitize [them to] the key factors that need to be taken into consideration in what is usually an ongoing process of decision making during course development and design” (Bates & Poole, 2003) but that designers can also aid this practice.


Bates and Poole. (2003) “A Framework for Selecting and Using Technology.” In Effective Teaching with Technology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pages 75-105.

Image source:  Tobias Toft. (2010). Interaction 10 – Savannah-20. [Image file] Retrieved from Flickr under CC by 2.0.

3 replies
  1. Brian
    Brian says:

    I appreciate your diplomacy! The fact of the matter is that we do not yet have an LMS that reflects the dynamic needs of its stakeholders. People flock to Facebook because it gives them quick and easy access to the content they want to post or view. All current LMS systems have all the tools but are interfaced in such a way that they are not efficient.

    Blackboard for example, feels like a 4 story tool shed with no doors just windows. Yes you can access each floor but it unnecessarily complicated. I have yet to take or teach a course in webCT/Blackboard that naturally allows for interaction. You are stuck in a compartment of reading or viewing and then need to navigate to a different place to interact. Why can’t the tools be in the workshop?

    I like your thinking! ~B

    • Bobbi
      Bobbi says:

      Thanks for the useful analogy Brian, you describe very aptly how I feel about this. In my undergrad I ran surveys, interviews, focus groups and ethnographic research on students using LMS’s to support classroom learning. What you describe is the picture that was also reflected by these students. They expressed that the integration of tools rather than the current ‘boxing’ of functions was one of the main reasons that they dreaded the use of LMS’s and reverted to social media instead. Some students expressed that they didn’t care if they lost marks for non-participation, they were learning more using their own tools with peers than they did inside the LMS environment. This is troubling and it does make me long for a more efficient ‘workshop’ as you say. : )

  2. Y
    Y says:

    Hi Bobbi
    The story reminds me of w e had to choose Google Docs instead of Blackboard for our group rubric project. We wanted to use Blackboard in the first place but some functions are not working as expected and collaboration environment w as not dynamic enough. It w as much fun to use Google docs. All my group projects I did through MET w ere done in Google docs and Google hangout even though our official LMS is Blackboard. I thought about this a lot why w e prefer other Web 2.0 technology based learning environment to current LMSs. Definitely, the lack of dynamic features – dynamic chatting in the lesson or shared documents, immediate updates and notification and dynamic sharing features – in LMSs would be one reason. Also, I think that w e are already used to the web 2.0 technologies. I am curious that users are not familiar with usual Web 2.0 technologies(FB, Twitter, GOOGLE services) will still choose those platforms over Blackboard or Moodle. Another reason could be cost. I know that having those dynamic features require a lot of resources – better performing servers, more RAM, fast readable hard disks, fast networking environment and so on. More resources mean higher cost. Even if Blackboard or Moodle incorporate those Web 2.0 functionalities into their LMS environment, wondering how many orgs/schools w ill afford to implement new improved LMSs in house.

    By the way, I have searched for Google apps integration with LMSs. And both Blackboard and Moodle support Google apps in their platform. It seems like it is up to schools/orgs to add that feature into existing LMSs. How ever, it looks like the Google add-ons/plug-ins are a new project for both Blackboard and Moodle so I am not sure how stable the plug-in is.

    In conclusion, I like your idea about incorporating w eb 2.0 technologies into our learning environment. and definitely, not an utopian idea :) Also, We absolutely need designer/programmers who are educated/trained in educational fields to help teachers and instructional designers choose right educational tools and design effective learning environment.

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