Online educational materials differ widely in the degree to which they feature interactivity between system and users. A three-condition, between participants controlled experiment (n=49) was designed to examine whether the level of interactivity in an online syllabus influences students' first impressions of the course and instructor. Participants viewed identical syllabi, differing only in the number and relationship of hyperlinks. The independent variable, interactivity, was manipulated to have three ordinal levels: a website with no links (low interactivity), a website with three linearly sequenced links (medium interactivity), and a website with three links, each hierarchically related to three further links (high interactivity). Following exposure, subjects completed a paper and pencil questionnaire to assess their impressions. Participants in the linear sequenced conditions (low and medium interactivity collapsed into the "some" interactivity condition) showed more positive perceptions of the instructor compared to participants in the "high" interactivity condition. Future work and theoretical implications for the operationalization of interactivity as well as practical implications for distance education content design are discussed.

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Internet and Higher Education

Grigorovici, D. (Dan), Nam, S. (Siho), & Russill, C. (2003). The effects of online syllabus interactivity on students' perception of the course and instructor. Internet and Higher Education, 6(1), 41–52. doi:10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00163-X