Participant Interaction in a Latin American Online Leadership Training Course

Dolan, Mary;
Jan 2007
This paper draws on current research and analyzes participant interactions in a 12-week leadership online training course with students from 14 Latin American countries. The paper systematizes the experience of the Inter-American Institute for Social Development (INDES) and constitutes a case study of an experience in a regional, non-academic online training course. The research concentrates specifically on the effects of and influences on different types of interaction, particularly taking into consideration the intricacies and interrelations of participation, critical thinking, achievement and their relationship to gender. The paper quantifies student-to-student postings in the different online discussion conferences, relates the postings to activity types as well as learning outcomes, and gauges the levels of critical thinking in the postings. The analysis is carried out by gender in order to highlight similarities and differences between male and female participants. Finally, other forms of interaction (student-to-content, interface and, instructor) are briefly analyzed using student reports and surveys. Our results suggest positive influences of interaction for an online course, illustrated by positive correlations between grades for written course work and number of postings in the activity conferences as well as total number of postings in all conferences. Additionally, results also point to certain gender preferences for particular discussion forums, but due to the small sample size, no definitive conclusions could be made.