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Interactivities in eLearning: Decoding the 4 Levels and Their Examples

With the current disruptions to training due to COVID-19 and social distancing, I’m sure your organization must be looking to move training online. However, your stakeholders might have concerns about eLearning, especially about it engaging learners in the absence of an instructor. Well, I have a simple solution you can present – interactivities. eLearning interactivities are components that offer learners the opportunity to interact with the content, either by thinking or doing.

eLearning interactivities:

  • Draw learners into the course
  • Turn them into active participants by getting them to ‘do’ something
  • Give an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained
  • Beat monotony

With so much in favor of eLearning interactivities, let’s take a closer look at them.

What to Consider While Planning for eLearning Interactivities

The next big question is how much interactivity you need in your eLearning courses. The answer depends on:

  • Who your target audience is
  • Their prior experience with eLearning
  • Whether the course teaches simple tasks or complex skills
  • What you want learners to ‘do’ after completing the course
  • Your budget and timelines

Once you have answers to these questions, you can go ahead with determining how interactive you want your eLearning courses to be – choosing from the four levels of interaction.

Explore techniques to convert classroom interactivities to online interactivities.

Four Levels of Interactivities in eLearning

Level 1: eLearning with Passive Interaction

Page-turner or ‘click-next’ courses have the first level of interactivity, which is mostly a combination of static slides with audio, and basic navigation. These courses are relatively passive. Learners are restricted to reading onscreen information, listening to the audio, and proceeding to the next slide. Course content is relatively basic and presented in a linear manner.

You can go for the first level of interactivities in eLearning for refresher training or perhaps if you want to communicate simple facts and concepts. Some components you will find in this level are:

  • Navigational icons
  • Static icebreaker slides
  • Static graphics (images/tables)
  • Links to videos, podcasts, glossaries, and other resources
  • 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 can measure the first two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – Remembering and Understanding.

Level 2: eLearning with Limited Interaction

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. Learners can interact with simple animations, clickable tabs, multiple-choice questions, sequencing, and occasional drag-and-drop activities. In this level, you can include personalization using avatars.

What level 2 eLearning courses can offer:

  • Click to revealinteractions such as timelines, hotspots, matching, drag-and-drop, click on images, tabs, numbers
  • Personalization through avatars and/or addressing learners by name
  • Animations and simple videos
  • Open navigation
  • Assessments in the form of drag and drop, fill in the blanks, matching activities

There is considerable use of media and audio in this level which reduces textual overload and allows learners to retain information easily.

Bloom’s taxonomy in level 2 courses

Level 2 eLearning interactivities can measure the second and third levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – Understanding and Applying.


Deciding what content needs to be made interactive and designing good interactivities calls for good instructional design! Instructional designers ensure extraneous content is removed to include only must-know information. More so, they choose the right interactivities according to the content and the learning objectives to make learning intriguing and engaging for learners.

For example, if you need to teach a sequential process, a slideshow or click on numbers interactivity makes more sense. Similarly, if the learning objective is to help learners identify the parts of a machine, a hotspot interactivity is optimal.

Level 3: eLearning with Complex Interaction

In level 3 of eLearning, there is a greater level of customization and complexity through:

  • Activities that appeal to the right brain aptitudes of empathy, storytelling, and play
  • Watch-Try-Do simulations
  • Courses with gamified elements
  • Customized graphics, illustrations (background, characters relevant to the topic being discussed)
  • Complex animations
  • Animated videos
  • Assessments with scenarios and simulations

Play or edutainment can be incorporated through the use of game elements such as levels, points, scores, and leaderboards. Empathy can be infused by including open navigation, video snippets of learners sharing their challenges, and constructive feedback.

Scenarios, case studies, comic strips, and anecdotes are great storytelling tools and can be presented in a variety of ways – from simple scenarios with background images and characters to complex scenarios with dynamic backgrounds and characters talking and being animated. The point to note is that, based on the level of customization you need, they can go into the next level.

Bloom’s taxonomy in level 3 courses

Level 3 eLearning interactivities compel learners to evaluate situations, utilize their knowledge, and take decisions. Since learners need to apply their acquired knowledge, level 3 measures the third level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – Applying and Analyzing.

Level 4: eLearning with Advanced/Real-time Interaction

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:

  • Interactive videos
  • Scope for social learning
  • AR/VR exercises (360o videos/images)
  • Simulated job performance exercises
  • Completely gamified, scenario-based courses/assessments

This level of eLearning 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, a 360o video will help a holiday agent give prospective vacationers an accurate description of places she/he has never been to.

Encourage learners to use online discussion forums to find answers to queries from those who know – peers and experts – increasing the knowledge spectrum.

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. 

The Bottom Line

While these four levels of interactivities in eLearning courses each suit certain training topics/needs best, an 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. So you can rollout interactive courses quickly in the current times of COVID-19, and ensure your learners are as engaged in eLearning as they would have been in the classroom.

And if you want to know more about using scenarios, games, and simulations in eLearning, here’s a free eBook you can download, “Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses”.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses