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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Interaction, adult education and the World Wide Web Wilson, Mary Elizabeth


The World Wide Web makes it possible for participants in distance education courses to interact with each other, the instructor and others. It provides access to a vast array of online resources that can become part of the materials for the course. Interaction was the central focus of the study. The study approached interaction from an enactavist perspective, a view of learning that suggests knowledge exists only in interaction (the possibility for shared action). The two purposes of this study were to: • inventory interactivity used in courses on the World Wide Web • analyze the uses of interactivity in courses on the World Wide Web. One hundred and five courses offered via the World Wide Web were surveyed. The courses could all be completed without face-to-face contact between learner and instructor or other course participants. Five potential locations for interaction were identified from the literature and observation: learner-instructor, learner-learner, leamer-content, learner-media and learner-environment. Structured opportunities for learners to interact with individuals offline were also counted. The presence or absence of links to external Web sites was noted, and the number of external sites counted. Almost all courses provided for learner-instructor interaction. Learner-learner interaction was provided by e-mail, and by synchronous or asynchronous discussion spaces. To analyze the uses of interactivity within the courses, the assignments required for each course were examined. In most cases, traditional written assignments and examinations were used to evaluate participants. Few of the courses required interaction as part of an assignment. Few required participants to consult external Websites. The study concludes with a discussion of ways in which the World Wide Web could be used to deliver courses designed according to the principles of adt education, and the issues (both technical and political) that this would raise.

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