Interactive Web Pages

Overview: What is Interactivity?

Basic Interactive Elements

Tutorials & Activities

Web Conferencing

Interactive Toolbox

Flash Tour

Teaching Guide



Interactivity Through Virtual Learning
Virtual Learning Models
Tools & Technologies
Virtual Tour
Interactive Web 

What is virtual learning?

The world is getting smaller as more educators embrace virtual learning activities that connect their students through virtual learning activities.  Web-based virtual learning has provided educators with a new opportunity for teaching and learning that does not require schools or teachers to spend thousands of dollars for expensive technology and equipment  Everything you need to develop online virtual learning activities and classrooms is readily available via your computer and Web browser. 

By revolutionizing the way you can deliver your lesson content and expand learning opportunities for your students,  Web conferencing can open the world to both you and your students.  White board technologies and mini webcams allow for virtual collaboration as well at the ability to see and hear other virtual classmates.  Working in a virtual environment also enables your students to acquire valuable computer and Internet skills, strengthens their written and oral communication skills, and opens the door to cross cultural experiences.

Creating virtual learning activities requires many of the same skills and techniques as traditional face-to-face classes, but there are unique differences and special circumstances that need to be examined and addressed before virtual activities and projects can be created.   Virtual learning takes place on the Internet which removes the ability of your students to raise their hand to ask a question.  Email and conferencing software replaces the traditional question and answer model but both students and teachers need to realize that feedback is not instaneous.  Having to type a question or answer on a discussion board, or sending/replying to an Email forces the students to think about both the question and the answer which often causes them to relect on their words before posting.  Another benefit of virtual learning is the unlimited potential for collaborative work and small-group discussions among students who may never meet face-to-face.  Finding virtual partners to share an activity with, posting self introductions, and working on a project itself is what makes virtual classroom activities an exciting and powerful addition to the educational curriculum.

The virtual classroom never closes.  The lights stay on, the bell doesn't ring, and no one tells you when to put your pencil down and stop.  While this model appers to be ideal there still needs to be a live instructor to interact and moderate the activity  with the students to create valid educational experiences.   Teachers must monitor and check discussion boards daily, encourage students to post ideas and responses, and facilitate the learning of new tools and skills. 

The following hardware and software tools create the basic foundation of virtual activities and projects:

  • Computers with Internet access
  • Web browsers:  Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer versions 4.0 or later
  • Local Web Server or ISP (Internet Service Provider)  with FTP/Telnet Access
  • Student email accounts
  • Discussion Boards 
  • Instant Messaging Software
  • Controlled Chat Environment
Additional tools and software can be purchased separately to enchance the virtual learning experience or allow you and your students to create more advanced interactive elements and features. 
  • Video Conferencing Software
  • Mini Video Webcams
  • Scanners & Digital Cameras
  • Photo Imaging and Manipulation Software
  • Video Camcorders
  • Computer Based Video Editing Software
  • Interactive Multimedia Software 

How Do You Create a  Virtual Learning Model?

The teacher must create and post the material for a virtual learning activity on the Internet.  This can be as simple as a single web page with directions, resource links, and due dates to a more complicated set of web pages that becomes a mini site in itself.   These pages can reside on a local school server, on free personal web page sites, or if your school connects to the Internet via an ISP, on their server.  The teacher must define the scope of the project and explain his/her expectations of the students.  If the activity or project is a collaborative effort between two or more teachers, they must decide on project leadership, individual as well as team repsonsibilites, and how the project goals/outcomes will be measured and evaluated.

Virtual learning is flexible. 

Unlike traditional classrooms, virtual learning activities often occur in unstructured environments.  Students can access the material
over the Web at any time of day or night.  Even while working in class, the student needs to have a certain amount of self discipline to stay on task with the virtual lesson and avoid other distracting activities such as idle Web surfing.  While the teacher has no control over the students tindidibual time spent outside of class on the virtual learning activity , an engaging project will motivate students to check their email, post messages, and work on specifically assigned tasks on their own.  Virtual activities and projects actually provide students with a sense of owenrship which increases self esteem and fosters self motivation. 

 A virtual learning activity can be as simple as students visiting a web page posted by the teacher to receive instructions for the assignment.  These instructions could then require the students to perform assigned readings, conduct library research, compile resources gained from surfing the Net, notate research material from CD-ROMs, and other research resources.  The final result of the activity may be students posting their research papers on the Internet with a brief page describing what they learned.  The teacher can also use this model to post homework assignments, gather student/parental feedback,  and archive past unit material and lessons. 

Project based virtual learning activities will require more time on the part of the teacher(s) involved.  The scope of the project should be defined with clear outcomes and objectives.  A realistic time frame needs to be established that outlines how much class time will be devoted to the virtual learning project as well as how many outside classroom hours will be expected by students.  The length of the project also needs to be defined.  Activities on this level usually work best if done over an entire semester.  Some projects can even be ongoing throughout the entire school year. 

To see examples of virtual learning activities and projects.  Take the Virtual Tour .


The contents of the Web Institute Web Site, including the On-Line Curriculum, Web Tank, and Session Notes, are Copyright 1999-2000, Graham School of General Studies, University of Chicago. No one may print, copy, or otherwise reproduce these materials without the express written permission of the Director of Education Programs at the Graham School. All rights reserved.

The chapters from Curriculum Webs: A Practical Guide to Weaving the Web into Teaching and Learning are Copyright 1999-2000, Craig A. Cunningham and Marty Billingsley. No one may print, copy, or otherwise reproduce these materials without the express written permission of the authors. All rights reserved.