Interaction in online media

Interaction is key to the online experience. With traditional offline media – print, TV, radio, tapes, CDs – we were never anything but passive consumers. Online we are active participants able to hunt down information, learn new skills, transact as buyers and sellers, form relationships, network with our peers and much more – all activities that we once had to carry out face-to-face or using much more primitive media such as the mail or telephone. To underline the importance of interaction, just imagine if our online tools allowed no interaction – we’d get no further than our browser’s home page or an email application full of nothing but spam.

There are some very good reasons why we need to interact online:
  1. To navigate, e.g. to follow links on the World Wide Web, to select from menus in an online application, to move between pages in an e-learning module.
  2. To configure, to set up the parameters of a particular decision or action, e.g. setting audio volume, determining how often we wish to receive email updates.
  3. To explore, to move around a space such as a map or 3D world, to scroll a document or search within an audio-visual resource.
  4. To converse with other humans, whether synchronously (live) or asynchronously (at our own pace), using text, audio or video.
  5. To provide information, e.g. a survey or form.
  6. To answer questions, in order to demonstrate learning.
There are essentially four mechanisms for interacting online:
  • selecting – picking from the options provided
  • supplying – coming up with our own responses
  • organising – matching and sequencing the options provided
  • exploring – finding what we want within a space or body of content
To explore the nature of interaction in more detail, with a special emphasis on learning, I’ll be taking each of these in turn in an occasional series of postings over the next month or so.
And here are the posts: selecting, supplying, organising, exploring

About Clive Shepherd

Clive Shepherd has written 243 post in this blog.

Clive is a consultant specialising in the application of technology to learning and business communications. He was previously Director of Training and Creative Services for a multinational corporation and co-founder of a major multimedia development company. For four years he was chair of the eLearning Network.

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