Applying the Interaction Equivalency Theorem to Online Courses in a Large Organization

Brenda Cecilia Padilla Rodriguez
Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Alejandro Armellini
University of Northampton, UK


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.

About the Author(s)...

Brenda Cecilia Padilla Rodriguez is a lecturer at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and a research assistant at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. Her research focuses on online interactions and the effectiveness of corporate e-learning. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Alejandro Armelliniis a Professor of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and Director of the Institute of Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton, United Kingdom. His research focuses on learning innovation, online pedagogy, institutional capacity building and open practices. He has extensive international teaching and programme development experience across many educational sectors. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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