‘For an eLearning course to be engaging, it has to be interactive.’ Being a Training Manager, I am sure you get to hear this phrase often. Well, we all know interactivities in eLearning are components that provide learners with the opportunity to interact with the content, either by thinking or doing. ELearning interactivity is the key that holds learners’ attention and assists them in assimilating new information. To put it simply, eLearning interactivities help make eLearning a fun experience!
Interactivities in eLearning: Decoding the 4 Levels
eLearning interactivities provide learners with the opportunity to interact with a course, either by doing or thinking.
4 Levels of eLearning Interactivities:
Level 1: eLearning with Passive Interactions (Click-next courses)
Level 2: eLearning with Limited Interactions (Drag-and-drop, single/multiple select)
Level 3: eLearning with Complex Interactions (Simulations, scenarios)
Level 4: eLearning with Advanced/Real-time Interactions (Game-based learning, gamification, social learning)
However, the big question is how much interactivity do you need in your eLearning courses? The interactions you need for your eLearning content comes down to the questions such as:
- Who are your target audience?
- What is their prior experience with eLearning?
- Is your course about simple tasks or teaching complex skill-sets?
- What do you want your learners to ‘do’ after completing the course?
- What is your budget for the course?
Once you find answers to these questions, you can go ahead with determining how interactive you want your eLearning courses to be – choosing the levels of interactions. For instance, if you want to refresh basic concepts or cover topics where learners can sit back and watch, page-turner courses can be an option. However, if the information is dry, incorporating interactivities will make the course more engaging and compelling for learners. Therefore, choosing the right interactivity can play a huge role in effective online learning. So, let’s find out the four levels of interactivity in eLearning you can choose from.
Four Levels of Interactivities in eLearning
Level 1: eLearning with Passive Interactions
The first level of interactivity is often termed ‘page-turner’ or ‘click-next’ courses. This is because these courses are relatively passive. Here, learners are restricted to reading onscreen information, listening to the audio, and proceeding to the next slide. The course content is relatively basic and presented in a linear manner. However, it’s important to ensure level 1 interactivity courses are short with free navigation for learners. This implies learners should have the freedom to jump to a specific slide and get the information they want, and spend as little or long as they want on individual slides.
You can go for the first level of interactivities in eLearning for refresher training or perhaps if you want to communicate simple topics such as facts and concepts. Some components you will find in this level are:
- Navigational icons
- Static graphics (images/tables)
- Links to videos and podcasts
- Simple assessment questions such as true/false, single-select
Bloom’s taxonomy in level 1 courses
Level 1 eLearning interactivities seldom provide scope for knowledge application. Hence, level 1 interactivity aims at the first two levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy – Remembering and Understanding.
Level 2: eLearning with Limited Interactions
The second level of eLearning interactivity continues to be basic; however, learners have more control and involvement than level 1. This implies, learners can do much more than just read, watch, and navigate. Limited interactions allow learners to interact with simple animations, clickable tabs, multiple-choice questions, sequencing, and occasional drag-and-drop activities.
Bloom’s taxonomy in level 2 courses
Moreover, learners can freely navigate to a section or a slide of their choice since the content is presented in a non-linear manner. Learners understand the knowledge being shared and also have opportunities to test their application on the job. Hence, level 2 aims for the second and third levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – Understanding and Applying.
What to look for in level 2 eLearning courses:
- Click to reveal interactions such as timelines, hotspots, matching, drag-and-drop, click on images, tabs, numbers, arrows
- Animations and transitions
- Navigation expanded to menu bar, glossaries
- Audio narration and self-running videos
- Reinforcement questions
Level 2 interactive courses can be used for product and process training, and skill development, rather than just knowledge transfer. For instance, the various steps in a process can be demonstrated using click-on-numbers or a slideshow. Additionally, there is a considerable use of media and audio in this level which reduces content overload and allows learners to retain information easily.
Now, you might think whether level 1 and level 2 interactivities will be effective? This is where the need for good instructional design comes in! Instructional designers ensure extraneous content is chunked to include only must-know information. More so, they choose right interactivities according to the given content to make learning intriguing and engaging for your learners.
In case you are looking for more engagement and interactions in your eLearning courses, you still have levels 3 and 4 to choose from. Let’s find out what they have in store.
Level 3: eLearning with Complex Interactions
In level 3 of eLearning, there is a greater level of customization and complexity including:
- Scenarios, branching scenarios, simulations
- Customized graphics, illustrations ( background, characters relevant to the topic being discussed)
- Use of complex animation
- Animated videos
- Customized audio narration
Bloom’s taxonomy in level 3 courses
Apart from actively engaging in the eLearning course, learners have to evaluate situations, utilize their knowledge and take decisions. Since learners need to apply their acquired knowledge, level 3 aims for third level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – Applying and Analyzing.
Some of the popular level 3 eLearning interactivities
Learning is based on real-life situations, day-to-day issues that learners encounter at work. Learners have to respond to a given situation, take decisions based on the knowledge acquired, and choose a particular course of action. Scenario-based learning boosts critical thinking, decision-making, and equips learners to resolve real-life issues.
This interaction ensures learners see the relevance of the knowledge and interpret it as the situation demands, being completely immersed in the learning. For instance, scenarios can be used for training such as sales or compliance to show the dos and don’ts.
Simulations in eLearning is all about doing things rather than merely understanding them. It provides your learners hands-on experience by learning in environments that replicate real-life, in a risk-free manner. To put it simply, learners can first see how something works (watch), attempt the same under guidance (try), and practice on their own (do). For instance, simulations in eLearning are widely used in software training where learners can practice how to execute each task.
Level 4: eLearning with Advanced/Real-time Interactions
Level 4 is the highest level of interactivities in eLearning. Here, learners are free to learn and practice new skills as well as have full control over their learning. In this level, you can find:
- Games and gamification
- Customized (even interactive) video
- Social learning
- Simulated job performance exercises
This level of interactivity is apt when you want to help your learners understand multifaceted and complex business issues, train them on strategic level skills, as well as bring about a change in their attitude or behavior. For instance, relatable digital characters can be used to teach complex concepts or topics with a professional run-through using a game to enable better comprehension and learning impact.
Encourage learners to use online discussion forums to find answers to queries from those who know – peers and experts – increasing the knowledge spectrum. Evidently, learning in this level occurs in real-time with the use of customized characters (avatars), game-based nuggets, gamification, and social learning.
Bloom’s taxonomy in level 4 courses
Level 4 eLearning courses aim at the third, fourth, and fifth levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy – Applying, Analyzing, and Evaluating.
Game-based learning refers to the integration of games in the learning process where learners have to play the game to achieve the set learning objectives. Game-based learning encourages learners to resolve problems, use their imagination, execute strategies, and play as characters to win the game – and ultimately, learn.
Simply put, learners get to put their knowledge to use rather than gaining contextual knowledge first and using it later. For instance, designing an eLearning course in the form of a reality quiz show where learners get virtual cash rewards for right answers until they win the jackpot.
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Gamification is not synonymous with game-based learning. Gamification in eLearning includes using gaming elements and mechanics such as rewards, badges, leaderboards, ranking, and point system to make learning engaging and compelling. For instance, give five points when learners get an answer correct and/or display final results on a dashboard to spice up competition.
Social learning in online training is all about learning from others and with others. Social learning happens either through direct or indirect interactions. Direct includes face-to-face interactions. Indirect can be achieved using social media handles, discussion forums, and sharing user-generated content.
The Bottom Line
While these four levels of eLearning courses each suit certain training topics/needs best, effective ID skillset is the secret to success. In case you are thinking developing courses of levels 3 and 4 can be time-consuming, here’s good news. With rapid eLearning authoring tools such as Articulate Rise, Articulate Storyline 360, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire, the development of interactive eLearning is no more a herculean task. These tools come with enhanced interactions, assets library, and in-built interactive templates that can be customized to fit your needs. And if you want to know more about developing engaging eLearning courses, here’s a free eBook you can download- “Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses”.