Thursday, October 14, 2010

On the Forms of Interaction in Distance Education and Educational Games

Roel Cantada

The following discussion is part of a draft proposal for a Master's project that I am currently doing at UPOU. I had to drop this from the final proposal because it bloated the paper. I am posting it here so I would remember what I've learned from reading literature on educational games. I am currently developing assets for the project game and I might lose track of the theory underlying my project.

The analytical tool that I will use in this post is the “forms of interaction in Distance Education (DE)” initially developed by Michael G. Moore (1989), then extended by Randy Garrison and Terry Anderson (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Anderson 2003, 2008), and further extended by Jon Dron (2008). The ten forms or types of interactions are the following:

  1. learner-content
  2. learner-teacher
  3. learner-learner
  4. teacher-content
  5. content-content
  6. learner-group
  7. teacher-teacher
  8. group-content
  9. teacher-group
  10. group-group

I selected this analytical framework because these forms of interactions are what are called relations (also called ties, links, lines, or connections) in network terms. They are not properties of single entities (also called actors, nodes, or vectors in network analysis) but at least two entities. With these dyads I can build a network of interactions in distance education. In reality the human-to-human interation is mediated by digital content and the result is a triad rather than a dyad. In applying these forms of interaction to the use of games in distance education I am going to make some modification to the terms that will result in the following list:

  1. learner-game content
  2. learner-teacher
  3. learner-learner
  4. teacher-game content
  5. game content-subject matter content
  6. learner-community
  7. teacher-teacher
  8. community-game content
  9. teacher-community
  10. community-community

I have adopted the term community instead of group because it is more common in the educational games literature. The term “content” in the literature usually refer to domain knowledge or subject matter content like Philippine History. In this post subject matter content has been differentiated with in-game content or how to play the game.

This multi-part post will focus on the first five interactions which deal with the interactions of the triad: learner-game-teacher. The remaining five appears to me to involve faculty development and educational policy considerations in the local and national scale. I will be not deal with them as deeply as the first five as they involve intervention outside the realm of a game designer.


Anderson, T. (2003). Modes of interaction in distance education: recent developments and research questions. In M.G. Moore, & W.G. Anderson (Eds.). Handbook of distance education (pp. 129-144). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Anderson, T. (2008). The theory and practice of online learning, (2nd. ed). AU.

Dron, J. (2007). Control and constraint in e-learning: Choosing when to choose. USA & UK: Idea Group.

Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Moore, M.G. (1989). Three types of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2). Retrieved May 18, 2010, from

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