Online courses differ from other forms of distance learning in that they nearly all allow or require students to interact with fellow students. Student-student interaction takes place any time learners socialize, support one another, learn together, collaborate, or engage in discussion. Quality student-student interaction has great potential to benefit both emotional and cognitive engagement for students.

As with other aspects of online teaching and learning, many key decisions about how to cultivate student-student interaction are made during the design phase of a course. However, there are a number of important considerations and strategies that can help you as a facilitator foster student-student interaction during course delivery.

Key concepts

  • Student social presence
  • Life cycle of student-student interaction
    • Socially formative phase
    • Socially instrumental phase
    • Withdrawal phase
  • Modelling effective interaction
  • Structure for student-student interactions, discussions, and group work

Unit sections

5a. What is student-student interaction?

5b. How student-student interaction leads to engagement

5c. Strategies for building student-student interaction

Supplementary resources