Online education is constantly evolving to provide students with a better academic experience. One important consideration for online colleges is the amount of interactivity in their courses. Students often learn best by doing, or at least by seeing and hearing information rather than simply reading it in a textbook or on the Internet. Colleges and individual instructors of online courses are working to find new ways to make online classes more interactive.

How Online Lessons Become Interactive

Instructors of online college courses have many options for making their classes interactive and introducing course materials in ways that are engaging. They can choose from an abundance of software applications to create animated presentations that convey course material. They can also create videos that fulfill course goals beyond simply recording lectures.

Individual professors aren’t the only ones striving for a more interactive online education. Colleges are finding ways to make incorporate more interactive elements into classes, as well. For example, many online mathematics and science courses include virtual laboratories where students can take part in experiments on the Web just like they would in a real lab during the course of a traditional course. Schools are also increasingly looking at partnerships with outside parties. The University of Oklahoma recently partnered with the History Channel to create “the first ever TV network-branded online college course for credit,” CNN reported. The History Channel will provide interactive supplemental material, like clips of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to accompany traditional course material such as lectures and exams in the school’s online history course “United States, 1865 to Present.” If the course proves to be a success, more online schools might seek partnerships with relevant media providers to boost interactivity in their courses.

The Importance of Interactive Elements in Online Classes

Though interactive lessons and the opportunity to learn by doing can make any course more interesting and meaningful, these factors may be particularly important for online college degree programs. Compared to a traditional course, participants in an online college class will have few interactions with fellow students and instructors. In the virtual classroom, discussions and even group projects must be held fully online, often through web-based forums and chats within the learning platform. In asynchronous courses where students complete the work on their own schedule, these discussions may take place over several days instead of at the fast pace of an in-person conversation. This lack of interaction can lead students to feel isolated, and they may fall behind. Adding interactive elements to the class can help students feel engaged in their coursework and learn more from the course.

Making classes as interactive as possible is an important goal for online colleges and professors of online courses. Whether through software applications, videos, virtual laboratories or outside partnerships with media providers like the History Channel, it’s essential that schools make lessons engaging and make the online college experience as valuable to students as possible.