Didactics & Scenarios

Encourage interaction

One of the challenges in online teaching is often the feeling of having a kind of "black box" in front of you. That means, there is no interaction, no backchannel, no connection, which in face-to-face situations usually happens all by itself through the meeting of people (facial expressions and gestures or the mood in the room). On this page, you will find some ideas on how to deal with this challenge.

Overview: Considerations for online teaching

The main initial questions of this idea collection

  • How can interaction be increased in online lectures to get more feedback from the audience and encourage social interaction?
  • How can interaction in (phases of) asynchronous online teaching be purposely designed and supported?

Why are feedback and social interaction important?

Teachers want feedback from their students because they ask themselves:

  • What is the learning level? Was the content understood?
  • What questions do the students have?
  • (How) Are they getting along with the online learning program?

Only on the basis of this feedback are appropriate reactions and adjustments in teaching design possible – regardless of whether teaching is conducted synchronously, e.g. via online meetings, or asynchronously (flexible in time via learning materials and activities on the learning platform).

Social interaction, i.e. communication and exchange among students, is helpful,

  • because the feeling of social inclusion is an important motivating factor in the learning process
  • and students can thus also learn from each other and support each other.

Idea collection: Encouraging interaction in online teaching

One main objective of many of these ideas is: to create a feeling of social inclusion for the students. After all, this is often a neglected but important success factor for the learning process. – It is easier to participate and give feedback and to work on tasks cooperatively. Learning together instead of alone in the self-study phases is also encouraged if students feel like being part of the group and know the people.

We have organized the following ideas according to which phases in the course or semester they can be applied well.

We also distinguish between synchronous (live in Online Meetings) and asynchronous (flexible timing, e.g. on the Moodle learning platform).

For some ideas we give more detailed examples, tips & hints in the form of a small fact sheet, which is linked to the respective idea under “More details”.

Type of course Objectives of the interaction Methodical approach Tools Example, tips & hints
asynchronous (e.g. on the Moodle learning platform):
all types Reduce uncertainty, arouse interest Welcome message with a small preparation task Moodle: Forum More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
all types (especially larger courses) Get to know the whole group & build up a group feeling Questions to get to know each other and classify yourself in the group Moodle: Forum,
Moodle activity Fair Allocation combined with Zoom
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
large lecture / practical Support the formation of learning groups Polls to get to know the group Moodle:
Choice, Feedback, Fair Allocation
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
smaller courses or small groups in larger courses Get to know group members & build up a group feeling;
Ask for expectations
Short round of introductions based on get-to-know-you questions Moodle: Forum
Alternative: Leave “business card” on Padlet
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
all types Lower students' inhibition thresholds about asking questions as well as participating in collaborative tasks “Test runs” with collaborative tools or tools for asking questions Tools in Moodle for students to ask questions:
Forum, Hot Question, Etherpad Lite, Group Chat;
Tools in Moodle for collaborative tasks:
Etherpad Lite, Wiki,
Forum, Workshop;
Padlet (no Moodle activity)
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
synchronous (live in online meetings):
all types (especially larger courses) Get to know the whole group & build up a group feeling;
Evaluate the level of prior knowledge;
Make expectations transparent
Anonymous voting questions to get to know the group & classify yourself Pingo (simple SC & MC questions, open text questions)
Mentimeter (questions to classify yourself: „Scales“, „Ranking“, „2x2 Grid“)
Zoom: polling tool; Conduct a point poll with the “annotate” function on the whiteboard or via screen sharing on a prepared graphic
Here, for example, the methods barometer, 4-corner method can be used creatively;
Example for a point poll, which is currently suitable: "Where are you sitting at the moment?
all types Lower inhibition threshold for participation;
Get to know the whole group
To get started, have students answer questions in the chat (no content questions) Zoom: Chat uncomplicated questions that require only short answers
small to medium sized courses (as much as you can survey video images on your screen) Get to know the whole group;
Encourage to switch on the video
Finger Feedback Zoom: Video You ask questions about experience/ previous knowledge/ sociographical etc. and give a number of fingers for each possible answer, e.g. answer 1 = 1 finger etc. (prepared on slides) > the participants answer by holding the corresponding number of fingers in front of the camera
smaller courses, e.g. seminar Get to know each other personally & build up a group feeling Speed Dating Zoom: Breakout Sessions
possibly comined with Etherpad, Padlet
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
Type of course Objectives of the interaction Methodical approach Tools Example, tips & hints
asynchronous (e.g. on the Moodle learning platform):
all types Generate interest Show case studies based on student submissions Moodle activities:
Choice,
Assignment, Wiki
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
synchronous (live in online meetings):
for smaller courses (later semester) Arouse interest in the content, structure content Sort pictures Zoom: Whiteboard;
Padlet
More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
Type of course Objectives of the interaction Methodical approach Tools Example, tips & hints
synchronous (live in online meetings):
all types Encourage social interaction Warm Up: Provide opportunity for informal chat Zoom: Chat You could allow 5 minutes at the beginning of the session for everyone to see who is there and have the opportunity to chat privately and/or publicly.
all types (divided into small groups) Support self-regulated learning (learning rhythm); create commitment;
social inclusion
morning/weekly check-in (what's coming up) Zoom in small groups (also without a teacher, if necessary with the support of tutors)
all types Collect and clarify questions from students Regular live question sessions Zoom, if necessary combined with Etherpad (in Moodle) More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
Type of course Objectives of the interaction Methodical approach Tools Example, tips & hints
synchronous (live in online meetings):
all types Get feedback from the audience: understanding questions after content inputs, ask for opinions/feedback Live Voting/ Quiz Mentimeter,
Pingo,
Invote,
Zoom: polling tool
Zoom polls: not easy to create questions spontaneously > Recommendation: prepare in advance;
Quiz in Mentimeter has playful (fun) character
Opportunities for use and reports on experience with live voting in teaching
all types Share information quick & easy Collection of links in chat Zoom: Chat At any time for all in the plenum or at certain times upon request (e.g. after prior research time on a specific topic)
all types Receive any feedback from the audience Use functions for non-verbal feedback in Zoom (raise hand, thumbs up/down …) Zoom: “Reactions” Note: “Reactions” that express emotions (thumbs up, clapping, smiley etc.) are only visible for a short time; other “reactions” (such as raising a hand) remain and must be explicitly deactivated again
all types Collect and clarify questions from students Set up a question repository for the course Zoom: Whiteboard,
Etherpad (in Moodle)
Etherpad: Students can continuously post their questions and you respond to them at specific times;

Zoom Whiteboard: questions are collected at certain times and prioritized if necessary (point polling) > likewise, it is possible to “check off” questions when they have been answered
all types Get to know the whole group & build up a group feeling;
Get feedback and a sense of the mood;
Introduce the topic with a personal reference;
Encourage the use of the camera
Image association: you ask a question and students give their answer by choosing an image Zoom: Virtual backgrounds (possibly in combination with Moodle for image file storage) More Details (opens in new tab) (in German)
Type of course Objectives of the interaction Methodical approach Tools Example, tips & hints
synchronous (live in online meetings):
all types Collect questions from students Muddiest Point (Collect unanswered questions) Zoom: Chat Have any unanswered questions written in chat at the end > address them next time;
asynchronous alternative: collect questions afterwards with the Moodle activity Hot Question
all types brief feedback, get the mood “Chat Waterfall” Zoom: Chat Give opinion/feedback on a question on a scale of 1-10 (or 1-5): simply write the corresponding number in the chat > especially with a high number of participants, this results in a “waterfall” of numbers that gives a good quick impression

These information were compiled by staff members of the Center for Educational Development and Technology (HDA) from the working areas “Digital Teaching and Learning” and “University Teaching and Learning Development”.