Tech Tools Support a Variety of Interactions

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases Quality item, “Technology tools support a variety of interactions (e.g., student-student, student-content, student-instructor).”

By: Charlotte Jones-Roberts, Instructional Designer, CDL

Limited interaction, including with teachers and other students, has been identified as one of the most common reasons for student dissatisfaction in online courses (Cole et al., 2014). Intentionally create an educational community where students can collaboratively engage in purposeful discourse. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison et al., 2000) suggests that the most optimal online learning experiences provide students with opportunities to interact with other students, the course materials, and the teacher. Providing opportunities in these three ways to engage in online courses may appear to be challenging, but a variety of technology tools, many provided in the learning management system (Webcourses@UCF), are available to help support these vital interactions.

What Are Some Ways Your Online Course Can Be Designed to Meet This Standard?


  • Create engaging discussion boards that incorporate current events, a bit of controversy, or choices for responding (Thompson et. al., 2016.). Check out more on discussion prompts in the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository.
  • Utilize group projects using Collaborations, Zoom, and shared documents that engage all students in meeting a larger goal.
  • Try video discussions for students to interact with each other in lieu of written discussions.
  • Use Zoom Breakout Rooms to create small groups in synchronous sessions.


  • Design meaningful assignments that require students to analyze course content in upper cognitive domains.
  • Check knowledge and comprehension with Webcourses@UCF Polls. In Zoom meetings, the host (instructor) can incorporate polls to encourage student-content interaction.
  • Create Materia Widgets to provide engaging practice and review opportunities.


  • Be present throughout your course, whether in Zoom sessions, discussion boards, or professor-made videos.
  • Create interaction through announcements; encourage open replies.
  • In discussion boards, participate but don’t dominate the conversation; move the conversation forward and fill in gaps where needed.
  • Provide substantive feedback, both positive and constructive, for student work, which may well be the most meaningful interaction for the student. Consider utilizing multimedia feedback such as audio or video feedback in Canvas assignments so students can hear your voice.
  • Encourage students to participate in office hours, even if it’s just to chat.

What Does This Look Like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1: Utilizing Webcourses@UCF Polls to engage students in content

Online Course Dynamics

Example 2: Creating student-instructor engagement through multimedia feedback in Canvas Speedgrader.

Multimedia student to instructor feedback in Canvas Speedgrader

Example 3: Encouraging student-content interaction with Materia Widgets for practice, review, or low-stakes knowledge checks.

Materia Matching Widget example


Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Cole, M. T., Shelley, D. J., & Swartz, L. B. (2014). Online instruction, e-learning, and student satisfaction: A three year study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(6).

Thompson, K., deNoyelles, A., Chen, B., & Futch, L. (2016). Create effective discussion prompts. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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