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Interactivity in the Online Learning Environment: A Study of Users of the North Carolina Virtual Public School

Quarterly Review of Distance Education Volume 13, Number 2, ISSN 1528-3518


Recent studies of online learning environments reveal the importance of interaction within the virtual environment. Abrami, Bernard, Bures, Borokhovski, and Tamim (2011) identify and study 3 types of student interactions: student-content, student-teacher, and student-student. This article builds on this classification of interactions as it explores the application of communication theory in the study of online learning, and it builds on the existing knowledge about interaction in online learning by adding data obtained through ethnographic study to the bank of survey data already extant. Observations of users of the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools environment reveal that while most of the students observed tend to interact primarily with the course content and many also engage in interaction with the face-to-face teacher, all engage in a significant amount of idle time, and many interact with other websites either simultaneously or alternately with North Carolina Virtual Public Schools. These observations serve as the basis of questions for further study of the efficacy of online learning for secondary students, especially credit recovery students, and recommends that steps be taken to maximize opportunities for online teacher-student interaction. (Contains 1 table.)


Ingerham, L. (2012). Interactivity in the Online Learning Environment: A Study of Users of the North Carolina Virtual Public School. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(2), 65-75. Retrieved September 18, 2019 from .

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