Course Activities & Learner Interaction

Course activities are all of the exercises, assignments, projects, discussions, and more that allow students to apply their learning and practice their mastery of material from a unit or module. These components in an online course also provide the foundation for the multiple types of interaction in a course, which include learner-to-content, learner-to-learner, and learner-to-instructor.

Opportunities for learning application and interaction should be integrated into the course in a way that enhances and balances the lecture content and other instructional materials. Moreover, course activities should be sequenced appropriately as well as varied in nature in order to retain student engagement and interest.


Why Is It Important?

The online learner benefits substantially from frequent and meaningful opportunities to engage with the content, with their fellow students, and with the instructor. Therefore, course activities and opportunities for interaction are critical to learner success in the online environment in particular. Not only do they provide ways for students to apply what they have learned, but they also foster engagement among learners and between learners and the instructor. The most effective activities and interaction are those that stimulate learners cognitively and motivate them in the pursuit of the course’s learning objectives.


How to Put Into Practice?

Below are four general steps for implementing online activities and interaction opportunities:

  1. Select learning activities that accomplish objectives.
  2. Use teaching methods that engage students in meaningful activities.
  3. Provide ample opportunity for interaction.
  4. Allow enough time for collaborative or group activities and discussions.

There are a plethora of options when selecting activities and interactions for a course. Therefore, it is helpful to consider the following when selecting activities:

Where to Find Resources?

Types of Interactions

Interactions in the online learning environment fall into three categories: learner-to-content, learner-to-instructor, and learner-to-learner. Each of these types is uniquely important for student learning and can complement the other two when integrated strategically into a course.

Learner-to-Content interactions are how the learner interacts with the instructional materials in a course.

Learner-to-Instructor interactions are how students and instructors connect at numerous and timely points throughout the course.

  • Private email messages
  • Real-time individual chats
  • Live class webinars
  • Asynchronous discussion forum responses
  • Other feedback mechanisms

Learner-to-Learner interactions are how learners connect with their peers in the context of the course.


  Want More?

The “Course Activities & Learner Interaction” deep dive topic provides strategies for promoting learner interaction and motivation as well as suggestions to enhance course activities that will provide students with clear expectations.

Topics covered include:

  • Active Learning
  • Interaction and Learner Motivation
  • Assignment Strategies
  • Absorb, Do, Connect Framework
  • Critical Thinking Strategies


Visit the Course Activities & Learner Interaction deep dive topic

Note: This course is available for FREE to all UW-Madison faculty and staff. When you click the link you will be prompted to sign in with your UW-Madison NetID and password. Then you will be taken to the topic homepage where you can learn more and complete activities.