Nowadays, for some strange reason that I fail to grasp, people in our profession assume that the use of computers implies some kind of interactive learning. Thus, the language lab director who asks for a new computer lab mentions interactivity as the new dimension that this kind of facility would add to our instruction. Likewise, the language teacher promoting the use and development of computer-assisted exercises, does not miss the opportunity to talk about the interactive element. Interactivity, though, the way I understand it, does not necessarily mean using a machine to produce something. For me, interactivity means, above all, the access to some kind of feedback. The student writes or talks and he/she gets a response or reaction. This is something that does not necessarily happen when you are reading, for example. On the other hand, this is something that always takes place in the classroom. The student says something and the teacher reacts to it-he/she asks another question, he/she answers the question, he/she models the right answer, he/she corrects, he/she explains, etc.
So, not every page in the web or every computer exercise fullfils the requisite of interactivity. As a matter of fact, most of the materials available through the use of computers are very mechanic, and do not go beyond a simple automated action like going to the next page, providing all the answers to the exercise at once, or giving a lengthy grammar explanation on one page. The computer literati have it right when they distinguish between static and dynamic web pages, for example. If the static page becomes simply a sophisticated extension of the printed page, the dynamic aspires to be close to a dialogue between the user and the machine. Needless to say, the dynamic web page presupposes feedback, i.e. interactivity.