Hayden and Jared, two software engineers, were given a new software to implement in their respective departments. Hayden and his team decided to read through the manuals provided, to get started with the software implementation. Jared and his team found another way of educating themselves – they did quite a bit of research and found interactive videos that gave them a step-by-step explanation of the software implementation process and also allowed them to click on hotspots for explanations of the functionality.
In no time, Jared and his team successfully completed the task, whereas Hayden and his team were still trying to figure a way out with the whole process. Why do you think Jared was able to complete his task, while Hayden was left struggling? Well, Jared chose an interactive way to complete his task, whereas Hayden stuck to reading, a passive form of learning.
In the eLearning scenario, take a moment to think of what an interactive mode of eLearning really means. Do you imagine it to be clicking the NEXT button to proceed further? Interactive eLearning is definitely not about clicking the NEXT button. It’s all about the activities that happen onscreen. And I am definitely not referring to fancy animations buzzing, or a slide streaked with colors.
What exactly is an interactive eLearning course? And when is it used? This post talks about when interactivities are to be used and how they can be used to engage learners, to make them connect, to make them act, to create an enhanced learning environment, to compel learners to action and/or thinking. I will also talk about how Instructional Designers need to refrain from developing passive eLearning courses and list a few reasons interactivities are essential in eLearning courses.
However, too much of it is also not a good idea. An ID should balance every online course with the right amount of interactivity. Too much of interactivity can lead to learner fatigue. It has the potential to distract learners by driving them away from the major learning points. There are three major reasons to use interactivities:
1. To Break Monotony
There are times when courses become monotonous with just slides and slides of text, and no images or audio or engaging elements. When you include interactivities, it enhances the learning experience.
2. When there is Too Much of Text
There will be a major cognitive overload, if courses are just filled with content. This is where interactivities come into play. When you present important information using an interactivity, you can make the course more engaging.
For instance, if you wish to deliver a course on the code of conduct of the organization, you could include a scenario-based approach to teach employees about the policies and procedures to be followed. You can be sure that learners will grasp the content well.
3. To Encourage Learners to Think
When interactivities are used in an eLearning course, it makes learners think. For instance, when one of our clients needed to train their employees on Cyber Security, they wanted learners to differentiate between a potential threat and other aspects that could pose a threat. We came up with an interactive scenario-based game that gave learners a scenario and they had to analyze if a certain situation could constitute a threat. This made learners interact with the content before making a decision.
4 Ways to Challenge Your Learners with Interactive eLearning
There are a variety of interactivity options available that can be built in an eLearning course. Also, there are levels of interactivities that can be built – from simple, to complex. Listed below are a few ways to build an interactive experience in eLearning that focuses on instruction and making learning enjoyable and captivating.
1. Story-based Questions
It is common knowledge that stories woven around real-life scenarios spark the learner’s imagination. It makes them think of the situation in practical terms. You can use stories to create engaging interactive exercises within an eLearning course. You can use stories in a variety of ways and mediums such as text, graphics, audio-visuals, or a combination of any of them.
Quite often, a scenario is used where the learner needs to make quick decisions. These decisions are based on real-life situations. You could also include incomplete stories, where learners have to decide the outcome, based on their decisions. This can be done through single or multiple branching scenarios. This interactivity helps in improving the decision-making skills of learners, as there would be multiple conclusions to the story, based on the decision of the learners.
2. Using Characters/Avatars
To provide a human touch to eLearning courses, mascots or mentors are included. They can be used to offer interactions as well. For instance, for a client who needed a course on training their sales reps on customer interactions, we introduced characters such as a trainer and a couple of trainees in a course. Throughout the eLearning, learners had the experience of being part of a classroom as the screens replicated the actual classroom in the organization.
The classroom environment was brought in by developing conversations between the trainer and the trainees. The trainer explained the various types of questions to be asked of the customer and how each of them helps sell better. Through this, the mentor introduced new topics, creating an informal atmosphere for learning.
3. Game-based Interactions
One of the best ways to engage a learner in the content is through games. This works regardless of the age or designation of the learner. One of the biggest benefits of including games in an eLearning initiative is that there is little resistance and you can ride on its popularity, especially among the millennial learners.
For a client who needed their employees to be trained on performance management, we developed a maze that had the learner go through a maze to figure out how they could measure the performance of their employees. To proceed further, the player had to answer a few questions. The right answers led them forward, while the wrong answers gave them an opportunity to try again.
Goal-based games interactivities offer a sense of competition among learners. Learners are far more engaged as they find the need to succeed.
4. Interactive Videos
Interactive videos have hotspots and annotations. They help learners click and view more information during the course. With interactive videos, learners can participate in sessions actively to gain knowledge. Interactive videos engage learners in a dialogue, inviting them to listen and participate.
Interactive videos sometimes change the way information is presented to learners, making it learner-friendly. Also, as annotations are given in interactive videos, it helps learners stay on the same page without surfing other sites for related information. Everything they need is found in the context of the video itself.
While it is important to have an interactive eLearning experience, and interactivity plays a crucial role, you need to ensure it fits your training needs. Interactivities can make or break an eLearning course, so choosing the right kind is absolutely essential. Therefore, be sure to include only those interactivities that help deliver better learning outcomes.