The 3x3 of online courses

The construction of an online course requires the consideration of a significant number of variables, but there are some key points that I would like to underline since many times they are exaggerated or omitted in the rush to attend to calendar issues, budget, program, etc. Among these key points, below are three aspects to take into account before their creation and three aspects to consider to get the best out of them.

Three keys to creating online courses

  1. Interaction: Interaction is one of the great virtues that information and communication technologies (ICT) have given online courses. This interaction is not about applying all the automated elements available. Although surely many of these tools can be useful, it is necessary to consider those that really adapt to each course and context and avoid indiscriminate or incompatible use [1, p. 28]. At the same time, the natural interaction between students and teachers is also important. Precisely, those who participate in a course are encouraged to share and actively get involved when they find spaces to demonstrate [1, p. 28].

  2. Motivation: Motivation is perhaps one of the most sensitive points in education and is not only associated with the use of ICT. For example, one of the reasons that most directly affects student motivation is their perception of how useful the content they are striving to learn can be to them [2, p. 61], or the possibilities they have to face and overcome the difficulties that are in their way [3, p. 309]. On the other hand, although it is true that in a virtual environment the relevance of the contents and the obstacles to be overcome by students can also be adjusted, according to Priego & Peralta [4, p. 80] it is important to consider the inclusion of activities that allow co-evaluation, the creation of a participatory community, the use of synchronous resources, as well as accessibility, navigability and usability.

  3. Asynchronous mode: While it is true that distance education has the potential to reach a greater number of people, it is also true that the current use of ICT can leave out people who do not have the appropriate devices and thus widen the inequality gap that characterizes education [5, p. 119]. In this sense, the asynchronous strategy can help because it does not require significant bandwidth. In the same sense, this format is particularly useful for involving students who prefer to solve problems, study the decision-making process and be involved with technical issues that do not depend on social interaction [6].

3x3 within the complex structure of online courses. Drawing by the author.

Three keys to take advantage of online courses

  1. Multimodality: Rather than thinking of a platform-based course, the possibilities that currently exist allow considering different ways of reaching students. When this multimodality is used effectively, particularly by incorporating audios and videos, the e-learning applications are better used [7]. Similarly, studies have confirmed that multimodal interfaces can serve to reduce the time that students spend to solve tasks, in addition to benefiting the information transmission process; making the experience more satisfactory [8].

  2. Colaboration: Research has shown for years that if an online course builds a community, students will be more satisfied [9]. This effective construction of learning communities allows supportive exchanges between participants, which in turn improves the fluidity of the exchange [4]. In a way, it is not much different from traditional education, only that building these kinds of relationships in a distance model can be more difficult. In other words, although an online community does not use traditional spaces, learning is a social process [5] that is facilitated by exchange.

  3. Analytics: With the advancement of education through different devices, platforms, social networks, etc., the measurement of information (even Big Data) can become the main tools to monitor learning; which in turn can greatly favor individualized development [10]. In addition, this fact can facilitate the necessary evaluation of the educational process. Today this fact becomes more complex with the large amount of information produced in online training, which may even require specific applications to analyze these data [11].


Needless to say, these aspects are not the only ones, they are just a pill of what the process of creating and taking advantage of online courses means. It is also important to consider that, although here these aspects are presented in an order to be addressed before and during the course, it is important to bear in mind that this is a generality. The truth is that all must be taken into account throughout the process in one way or another by virtue of achieving a coherent course adjusted to the reality for which it is designed.


[1] Á. Nieto y E. Recio, «Espacios de interacción en los cursos de eLearning», ene. 2008, pp. 24-28.

[2] D. Fonseca Escudero, E. Redondo Domínguez, y F. Valls, «Motivación y mejora académica utilizando realidad aumentada para el estudio de modelos tridimensionales arquitectónicos», Motivation and Academic Improvement Using Augmented Reality for 3D Architectural Visualization, ene. 2016, Accedido: feb. 11, 2021.

[3] S. Hubackova, «Motivation in eLearning in University Study», Procedia - Soc. Behav. Sci., vol. 112, pp. 309-313, feb. 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1169.

[4] R. G. Priego y A. G. Peralta, «¿Cómo mejorar la calidad, la motivación y el compromiso estudiantil en la educación virtual?», Campus Virtuales, vol. 5, n.o 1, Art. n.o 1, mar. 2016.

[5] R. Andrews, «Does e-learning require a new theory of learning? Some initial thoughts», J. Educ. Res. Online, vol. 3, n.o 1, pp. 104-121, 2011.

[6] M. M. Shahabadi y M. Uplane, «Synchronous and Asynchronous e-learning Styles and Academic Performance of e-learners», Procedia - Soc. Behav. Sci., vol. 176, pp. 129-138, feb. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.453.

[7] D. Rigas y M. Sallam, «Multimodal e-learning on note-taking: a user satisfaction perspective», ene. 2010.

[8] M. Alseid y D. Rigas, «An Empirical Investigation into the Use of Multimodal E-Learning Interfaces», Hum.-Comput. Interact., dic. 2009, doi: 10.5772/7737.

[9] K. Swan y P. Shea, «The Development of Virtual Learning Communities», en Learning together online: research on asynchronous learning, Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005, pp. 239-260.

[10] C. Jittawiriyanukoon, «Proposed classification for eLearning data analytics with MOA», Int. J. Electr. Comput. Eng. IJECE, vol. 9, n.o 5, p. 3569, oct. 2019, doi: 10.11591/ijece.v9i5.pp3569-3575.

[11] Open University Malaysia, K. Sin, L. Muthu, y Bharathiyar University, «Application of big data in education data mining and learning analytics – A literature review», ICTACT J. Soft Comput., vol. 05, n.o 04, pp. 1035-1049, jul. 2015, doi: 10.21917/ijsc.2015.0145.

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