Assessment of the quality of interaction in distance learning programmes utilizing the Internet or interactive television

Bob Mash, Debbi Marais, Stephanie Van Der Walt, Idilette Van Deventer, Margot Steyn, Demetre Labadarios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


WebCT, a web-based virtual learning environment (VLE) and Interactive TV (ITV) are relatively new technologies that are used to deliver distance education at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University. This study explores how effective current approaches to instructional design and interaction have been in utilizing these two technologies to support interaction and what lessons can be learnt. Five focus-group interviews were held with students and lecturers to assess the perceived quality of student-lecturer/student-student interactions. All students were invited to complete a questionnaire at the end of every module to assess their perceptions of interaction. Interaction was highly valued by students and lecturers participating in distance-learning programmes utilizing either VLE or ITV. Students rated courses using both technologies as moderately interactive. Significant differences between VLE and ITV were detected in student-lecturer and student-student interactions, use of additional modes of communication, instructional design, technological interactivity and social rapport activities. The groups did not differ across a number of likely barriers to interaction and both also reported the need for more flexible and better paced instructional designs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-9
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • Adult
  • Asia
  • Communication
  • Communication Barriers
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Education, Distance
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Education, Nursing
  • Europe
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Primary Health Care
  • South Africa
  • Television


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