Towards rigor of online interaction research: Implication for future distance learning research

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For the past decade, distance learning research has shifted the focus from defining the notion of distance as a physical proximity or separateness to a psychological construct such as social presence. We have also witnessed the increasing number of research studies that have examined the role of interaction as a way to minimize psychological distance. However, the overall quality of online interaction research has been questioned due to the lack of rigorous methods, and the overly-positive assumption about the relationship between quantity and quality of interaction. This theoretical paper argues that future online interaction research in the area of distance learning should move beyond merely comparing the types or amounts of interaction, and that more rigorous criteria should be employed to design, implement and evaluate online interaction research studies. This paper presents a design-evaluation framework particularly focusing on the three dimensions of learning research on interaction: a) the conceptualization of interaction, b) the tight coupling of the pedagogical-technological design, and c) the valid and reliable evaluation. It is hoped that this paper will highlight critical theoretical and methodological issues for future research to consider for the advancement of our knowledge on the role of interaction in distance learning environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalTurkish Online Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Design
  • Distance learning
  • Evaluation
  • Interactivity
  • Online interaction


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