Applying the Interaction Equivalency Theorem to Online Courses in a Large Organization
Finding effective ways of designing online courses is a priority for corporate organizations. The interaction equivalency theorem states that meaningful learning can be achieved as long as courses are designed with at least a high level of one of three types of interactions (learner-content, learner-teacher or learner-learner). This study aimed to establish whether the interaction equivalency theorem applies to online learning in the corporate sector. The research was conducted in a large Mexican commercial organization, and involved 147 learners (sales supervisors), 30 teachers (sales managers and directors) and 3 academic assistants (course designers, or education support staff). Three courses of an existing Leadership Program (Situational Leadership, Empowering Beliefs and Effective Performance) were redesigned and developed to test three course designs, each emphasizing a different type of interaction (learner-content, learner-teacher or learner-learner). Data were collected through surveys (for diagnostic and evaluation purposes) and exams. All courses yielded high levels of effectiveness, in terms of satisfaction, learning, perceived readiness for knowledge transfer and return on expectations. This suggests that the interaction equivalency theorem not only applies in a business setting but might also include other indicators of course effectiveness, such as satisfaction, learning transfer and return on expectations. Further research is needed to explore the possible expansion of the theorem.