Exploring Presence of Interactivity in Distance Education Instructional Materials Using the Community of Inquiry Model at Four Universities in Zambia

  • Francis Simui Institute of Distance Education, University of Zambia
  • Daniel Mpolomoka Department of Adult Education, Zambian Open University
  • Leonard Sakakombe School of Education, Mulungushi University
  • Lydia Mhango Directorate of Distance Education and Open Learning, Copperbelt University
Keywords: Pedagogy, Interactivity, Distance Education, Community of Inquiry, Zambia


One of the perennial challenges distance education practitioners face borders on ‘how’ to foster quality interactivity within the learning instructional materials as a means to effective learning process. Thus, this article explores the presence of interactivity in instructional materials for undergraduate distance education learners from four universities using the Community of Inquiry mode in Zambia. The article rides on a non-obtrusive research approach to interrogate eight peer reviewed modules used by distance education learners for more than two years. Within the continuum of interactivity, the findings show a heavy presence of student-content while student-facilitator and student-student forms of interactions are conspicuously missing. Equally, there is more emphasis on cognitive presence while the social and teacher presences are missing. Such a state of affairs explain why distance education learners appear to be disengaged in the learning process since the instructional materials are not anchored on sound pedagogical distance education principles. This is a precursor to academic failure unknowingly induced by the three universities on unsuspecting learners. The challenge highlighted points to limited quality instructional designers of open and distance education materials in the three universities. To this extent, we recommend a tailor-made capacity building in the pedagogy of open and distance learning particularly the community of inquiry among others for all learning facilitators engaged in distance education.