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Interactivity: Which One to Use and When?

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Interactivity: Which One to Use and When?

In my previous blog “Interactivities: From an Instructional Designer’s Perspective“, we have learnt how to make judicious use of interactivity. Now let us know, when it comes to selection of interactive strategy, it is better if instructional designers bear in mind this crucial question: what type of knowledge are they going to teach. Is it designing a simple, straightforward content or a complex technical course? Once this decision is made, it becomes easy to select the appropriate interactive strategy. So, what are the different interactivities that should be used and WHEN? Let’s take a quick tour around the various factors involved in this.

WHEN the content is simple and the courses are mandatory: In a situation where the learner experiences only minimum interaction, the whole content is classified under “need to know” and “nice to know” categories. In such instances, an instructional designer can help the learner interact by using click on (such as tabs, images, boxes, hotspots, navigation buttons, etc., for the “need to know” category.), while for the “nice to know” category the instructional designer can use options like More info, Example or PDF icon. All these act as supplementary content for the learner.

WHEN the content is of limited complexity: It is a situation where the learners are expected to make simple responses. They don’t have to try and act. Thus, the best interactive strategies that can be implemented at this stage can be enumerated as follows:

  • game-based interaction where the learner has to explore
  • simple match-the-following or multiple choice questions
  • interactive timelines or simple simulations where the learners don’t have to act.

WHEN the content is too complicated: When the nature of content is of a high complexity and the learners are required to enter actual data, the course itself demands to be highly interactive and should be duly supported by audio narration. Therefore, instructional designers need to apply complex interaction such as branching assessment, exploring a complex process (virtual), or the use of avatar or character to train a new process, etc. For assessing the learner, “drag and drop” and “what’s wrong with the image” is another best option. Furthermore, complex but detailed animations are used to make the course more interesting.

WHEN the content needs to be applied in real-life context: Interactivities can help the learner apply their learning in real-life contexts. Here, learners are exposed to a situation where they are made to experience a real-life situation; this leads them to getting engaged in the interaction. To help learners in real-life learning, instructional designers can make the best use of scenarios. Scenarios help learners to read, watch, reflect or respond to questions. A judicious use of scenarios can help to assess the learner by fixing a problem or solving a mystery. Scenarios help them to actively participate and get feedback for their response.

There could be other interesting interactive strategies, but an instructional designer should never forget the bottom line, that is, use interactivity where it fits well with the level of knowledge that needs to be imparted.

I will be interested to learn your views on the subject. Do share your thoughts on the same.

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