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Padilla Rodriguez, B. C. and Armellini, A.
Although interaction is recognised as a key element for learning, its incorporation in online courses can be challenging. The interaction equivalency theorem provides guidelines: Meaningful learning can be supported as long as one of three types of interactions (learner-content, learner-teacher and learner-learner) is present at a high level. This study sought to apply this theorem to the corporate sector, and to expand it to include other indicators of course effectiveness: satisfaction, knowledge transfer, business results and return on expectations. A large Mexican organisation participated in this research, with 146 learners, 30 teachers and 3 academic assistants. Three versions of an online course were designed, each emphasising a different type of interaction. Data were collected through surveys, exams, observations, activity logs, think aloud protocols and sales records. All course versions yielded high levels of effectiveness, in terms of satisfaction, learning and return on expectations. Yet, course design did not dictate the types of interactions in which students engaged within the courses. Findings suggest that the interaction equivalency theorem can be reformulated as follows: In corporate settings, an online course can be effective in terms of satisfaction, learning, knowledge transfer, business results and return on expectations, as long as (a) at least one of three types of interaction (learner-content, learner-teacher or learner-learner) features prominently in the design of the course, and (b) course delivery is consistent with the chosen type of interaction. Focusing on only one type of interaction carries a high risk of confusion, disengagement or missed learning opportunities, which can be managed by incorporating other forms of interactions.