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Maintaining rich dialogic interactions in the transition to synchronous online learning

Hyunyi Jung (Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Corey Brady (Department of Teaching and Learning, Vanderbilt University, Baxter, Tennessee, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 29 June 2020

Issue publication date: 27 July 2020




The authors present the first author’s recent experience as a design case, capturing approach and principles to transitioning a course from in-person to remote modality while maintaining its collaborative, synchronous and dialogic nature.


A mathematical content course for preservice teachers at a mid-Western university was used as a site for this case study. Data include video recordings of synchronous online sessions, students’ written work and their reflections. Using a design case approach, the authors identified new social norms, which were interactively established from the mutual constitution of expectations and commitments between the instructor and students and which gradually became important aspects of the culture of online, whole-class discussions.


Dialogic discussions revealed a variety of student-generated methods to solve problems that enabled student-led interactions to become the center of each session. Opportunities for students to reflect on their own ideas and reasoning about mathematics often occurred in the synchronous settings in which they were allowed to express provisional ideas and clarify their thinking to others. Making connections between relevant educational theories and pragmatic instructional decisions of course instructors and designers in the crisis, this study aims to identify principles of instructional design and implementation that became salient in this case, backing them up with evidence from student voices.


The authors discuss how these principles of instructional design and implementation could make synchronous online instruction manageable for more instructors in future where entire semesters may occur through a virtual medium.



This paper is part of the special issue, “A Response to Emergency Transitions to Remote Online Education in K-12 and Higher Education” which contains shorter, rapid-turnaround invited works, not subject to double-blind peer review. The issue was called, managed and produced on short timeline in Summer 2020 toward pragmatic instructional application in the Fall 2020 semester.

Funding: The second author’s contribution is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL #1614745 and IIS #1652372.


Jung, H. and Brady, C. (2020), "Maintaining rich dialogic interactions in the transition to synchronous online learning", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 121 No. 5/6, pp. 391-400.



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