Assessment of the quality of interaction in distance learning programmes utilising the Internet (WebCT) or interactive television (ITV)

R J Mash, Debbi Marais, S Van Der Walt, I Van Deventer, M Steyn, D Labadarios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: This study focuses on the quality of interaction in interactive TV (ITV), WebCT bulletin boards (BBs) and chat rooms (CRs) and addresses the question of how effectively new collaborative electronic technologies have been married with new pedagogical ideas to create effective learning for distance education students. METHODS: Fifteen (out of 68) BB, 14 (out of 32) CR and 13 (out of 25) ITV conversations were randomly selected for coding using a modified exchange structure analysis. The roles that students and lecturers took in the conversations were determined from this. RESULTS: The percentage of turns made by lecturers as opposed to students was 51% in CRs, 14% in BBs and 68% in ITV. The percentage of turns spent on actual coursework was 73% in CRs, 89% in BBs and 82% in ITV. Comparisons between tutors' and students' roles within as well as between ITV, BBs and CRs were all statistically significant with P <0.05. In CRs the main roles of both students and lecturers were those of elaborators, inquirers and explainers. In BBs the main roles of students and lecturers were those of explainers and evaluators. In ITV sessions students' main roles were those of elaborators and explainers, whereas lecturers' main roles were those of lecturers, elaborators, inquirers and evaluators. CONCLUSION: In terms of creating a constructivist and active learning community that can operate within a distance learning paradigm, WebCT appears superior to ITV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1100
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Education
Issue number11
Early online date27 Oct 2005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005



  • Education, Distance
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Internet
  • South Africa
  • Teaching
  • Television

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