Interaction is a core element in the design of blended and distance learning environments. The importance of understanding these interactions and what might increase effectiveness of such interactions in education is paramount for meaningful learning. This dissertation consists of two qualitative case studies designed to provide a rich, descriptive look at interactions in a high school distance/blended-learning context in the home-study and technology-meditated seminary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the study article, Moore's (1989) interaction framework was used as a lens for understanding the learner experience. Thematic narratives were used to highlight themes related to students' perceived learning gains from learner-content interaction and their hesitancy to engage in learner-learner and learner-instructor interactions if they had not met personally. In the second study, Garrison's (2007) Community of Inquiry framework was used to understand the impact that teacher decisions, other than the selection of content, had on the cognitive and social climate of the learning experience. This study describes how a teacher's facilitation of social interaction influences the course learning outcomes. The results highlight the teacher's role in providing the educational and social climate needed to foster learner interactions. This study noted that when the teachers gave learners the opportunity to interact in a live setting, it appeared to foster the relationships needed to interact online. The narratives also highlight how a teacher helped learners interact with one another around content online.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





distance education, K-12 online learning, blended learning, community of inquiry, teacher presence, social presence, cognitive presence, distance learning interaction, learner-content interaction, learner-instructor interaction, learner-learner interaction