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Planning to Convert ILT to eLearning? Interactivities You Can Incorporate

Is your organization ready to take a step forward from instructor-led training (ILT) and implement eLearning as its training strategy? Then converting your existing classroom training materials—such as PowerPoint presentations, classroom recordings, paper-based textbooks and manuals—into fully-functional eLearning courses with relevant interactivities than developing a course from scratch can be a smart move. Converting a few ILT programs to eLearning is also a good place to start eLearning for the first time.

That being said, PPTs used in ILT sessions are known to be mostly static and offer little to no scope for interaction between the learner and the content. A great eLearning course with a high level of learner satisfaction is one where learners are given an opportunity to engage with the course and also interact with it.

Therefore, to transform dull, disengaging PPTs (or any existing training material, for that matter) into interactive and engrossing learning experiences—and in turn make the ILT-to-eLearning conversion effort worthwhile for organizations—courseware designers apply sound instructional design strategies and interactivities.

In this blog, we will look at some interactivities online learning designers make use of to turn non-interactive PPTs into rich and impactful eLearning courses.

Online Interactives when Converting ILT to eLearning 

1. Videos to Demonstrate Procedures and Operations

Borrowing from John Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory — which is concerned with the cognitive structures that make up an individual’s knowledge base—any instruction is first processed by the working memory before it’s registered in the long-term memory. Processing lengthy and text-heavy content—which is a staple of most PowerPoint presentations—causes an increase in the learner’s working memory load, and, as a result, leads to learner disengagement and demotivation.

To solve the problem of cognitive load caused by the text-heavy content, courseware designers employ interactive videos in the eLearning course. According to a Psychology Today article by Liraz Margalit titled “Video vs. Text: The Brain Perspective”, the human brain processes a video 60,000 times faster than text. A video-based learning strategy for online learning courses reduces the working memory load significantly and facilitates changes in long term memory associated with knowledge acquisition.

During the ILT to eLearning conversion process, courseware designers use the existing content in PPTs and create—using good instructional design principles—interactive videos to demonstrate the same procedures and operations that earlier existed as plain text. Video-based learning remains one of the most learner-friendly learning strategies that facilitates an immersive learning experience and drastically reduces cognitive load. Consider the following scenario:

If a service technician is to be trained on how to fix engine failures in an automobile, a textual explanation will surely lead to an increase in the mental load, making the learning process monotonous. What is required is a quick solution that offers the learner only the required information to complete the task at hand. An interactive video, in this regard, demonstrates the same process of how to fix an engine failure, but instead gives the information in an easy-to-digest format and, more importantly, takes up less learning time comparatively.

2. Click-and-Reveal Interactivities to Offer Detailed Explanation

As mentioned earlier, PowerPoint presentations and other paper-based manuals are known to be quite text-heavy, and learners have no control over the amount of content coming at them. To ensure learners have time to process the information on the screen, nice-to-know and other information (not directly related to the learning at hand, but useful as additional reading) is concealed behind clickable buttons. The learners can, if they choose to, click on these buttons and access the information behind them. These are called click-and-reveal interactions (examples: hotspots, hover-to-reveal, and click on numbers).

Example: Suppose, there are 25 slides in a PPT module for sales training. Each of the slides is inundated with long paragraphs of customer interactions and bullet points/numbered lists detailing the best practices of selling. Lengthy descriptions, as we have established, is a big contributor to learner disengagement.

To avoid this, eLearning courseware designers use software tools (such as iSpring) and, combined with their valuable ID skills, convert the PPT slides into a series of interactive slides. Interactive is the key word here, because what was earlier a collection of text-heavy PPT slides now contains pages complete with click-and-reveal buttons. Using the mouse, learners simply hover or click the buttons to reveal information.

By means of click-and-reveal interactivities, learners are presented with streamlined content; they see right away the content that is most important, focusing on just one learning point at a time. Another important aspect of using these interactivities is that it allows learners to easily interact with the screen that reveals information as per their preferred order and pace.

3. Scenario-based Learning to Promote Critical Thinking and Decision-Making Skills

Paper-based materials undoubtedly have a great amount of relevant information in them; information that can be quite helpful, especially when making the jump from ILT to eLearning. However, apart from great content, learners prefer context-sensitive content and want instant benefit from their learning material. They want to see the real-world benefit to the training they undergo on a regular basis. And they want to do all of this on the go, rather than slogging through hours of training. Any training that does not satisfy these learning needs is likely going to disappoint the new-age learner.

Let’s take the example of sales training again to understand this:

Every sales executive on the job is given a set of printed materials by his/her sales manager. These manuals contain product descriptions and related information for the guidance of sales representatives and their customers. In other words, the sales manual is part policy, part procedures, part best practices, part how-to guide. However, the sales rep sooner or later loses interest in learning the necessary sales skills using the manual. The content is either too long or too dry with no context whatsoever. (Also, paper-based sales manuals are not friendly in the sales executive’s job environment—which requires him to be on his/her toes, stay up to date with the latest product information.)

To put the sales training content in context and help sales executives realize their true potential, use scenario-based eLearning.The aforementioned example of paper-based sales training, when offered through scenario-based eLearning, looks something like this:

The salesperson is introduced to an irate customer and asked to make an appropriate choice on how to deal the situation based on their knowledge. Once the learner makes a choice, they will be presented with concrete and real consequences of their choice. By exposing sales reps to real-world problems, you teach them the relevance of the content they are learning.

The objective of any training is to make an impact on the learner’s attitude and promote critical thinking and decision-making skills. At the heart of scenario-based eLearning is changing attitudes using contexts—real-world context, to be more precise. It goes without saying that the eLearning vendor undertaking your ILT to eLearning conversion process needs to have a team of experts in learning and design. The existing sales manuals that are part of ILT act as springboards for these learning experts who then create good, context-sensitive scenarios.

Concluding Remarks

One must understand that the point of making learning interactive and giving the learner something to do is not just to stop them from “leaning back”. Instead, we are encouraging them to become active participants in the learning process. The act of looking and clicking, hovering or dragging, means the learner is forced to take a more active role in interacting with the content onscreen and assessing what they are required to do.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses