There is always a debate on “Levels of Interactivity” in eLearning. I have seen some clients (Learning and Training Managers) who strongly believe that an eLearning course without high interactivities cannot generate interest or grab learner’s attention while some others believe interactivities to be some nonsensical items that waste learner’s time and company’s training budget.
I don’t agree with either of the statements because “All eLearning projects are not equal” and shouldn’t be treated in the same way. Some courses may be designed just to share the information while some may target knowledge application. So the decision on interactivity in eLearning should consider:
- Content Type or Nature of the content
- Desired outcome
- Technical Environment
But this is where people get more confused and in fact, I keep getting enquiries asking the difference between the levels of interactivity and which one should be chosen or what Level of Interactivity will work for a particular course.
Interactivity in eLearning is typically defined and broken down into 4 different levels. Here are their details:
This level of courses is normally referred to as “Page-Turners” with very little or basic interactivity. It’s like a learner watching a movie clip or a recording where he will just sit and watch and not do anything else with the recording.
But they are still better than your Power Point Presentations because the content is broken down into units/sections with a flow followed by a quiz. The courses can be designed with basic page level navigations (play/pause, next and back buttons) compatible to SCORM /AICC. Courses at this level may or may not have audio.
This level with text and images is best suitable for communicating basic concepts or easy principles when you just want to pass on some information to the learners. And also if you want your huge training materials to be available online in a quick span of time and have very small budgets, then this would be an ideal solution.
Screenshot of Level 1 Course
Level-2: Limited Interaction
Level 2 Courses allow limited interaction with simple graphics, animations, interactivities (example Roll-Overs, click-on links/images/tabs,) and basic quiz questions (Example drag-and-drop, matching). Navigation in this level expands to glossary, menu and links to external resources. They can also have audio or video (product demonstrations, introduction) to help learning. The general thumb rule is every 5th screen of the course will have interactivity.
This level is ideal for courses that are aimed to aid on-the-job-performance or when emphasis is more on the skill development and not just knowledge transfer.
This method is suitable for Product, Operator and Process Trainings and one that has an impact on On-the-Job Performance of employees.
Screenshot of Level 2 Course
Level-3 : Average Interaction
This level eLearning will have all the features of Level 2 but the bar is raised. Courses of this level can have complex interactivities, graphics, animations, custom illustrations, games (Quiz Questions) that require detailed instructional design approach. They can have audio, videos and simulated environments. The general thumb rule is every 3rd screen of the course will have interactivity.
This method is ideal if you are trying to teach problem-solving activities (performing financial calculations etc.), introducing new software environments (simulations using Watch, Try, Do) and Menu driven applications.
Screenshot of Level 3 Course
Level-4: Enhanced Interaction
Level 4 eLearning Courses are designed with high impact graphics, highly recharged interactivities, complex animations, self-checks and practice exercises with greater level of sophistication. Usually a dynamic or a personalized environment is created using real life scenarios, digital Avatars to teach complex subjects, theories or concepts with a professional run through for better comprehension. The general thumb rule is every 3rd screen of the course will have interactivity but of a high level.
If your goal is to make an impact on the learners, change their attitudes and get the best performance out of them, this level of eLearning can be an effective option.
Compliance, Skill development trainings wherein the learners are expected to apply their knowledge in their job role/real life situations demand active learning which can be attained through Level 4 Interactivity.
Screenshot of Level 4 Course
Which one to choose:
Level 1/ 2
If you intend to develop training (like Company Policies, new Hire Orientation etc.) that needs frequent updation, too much interactivity will hinder the updation and also if it is some mandatory training, then you may not want to invest in creating engaging courses to generate attention since the learners are already motivated to complete the courses.
Level 3/ 4
If it is a tough subject wherein the learners are to be motivated to take the course or if you want to make an impact on the learner’s attitudes and improve their performances, then you need to take the help of high level interactivity. Also make sure to check whether your technical environment (Bandwidth, software etc.) supports courses with Level 3/ 4 interactivity before choosing.
Therefore the type of training, desired outcome, your budget and technical environment will greatly dictate the level of interactivity. Don’t experiment with some level just because you haven’t used them yet, even if another level is appropriate for the course. Don’t forget that as the level of interactivity increases, the development cost and time will also increase. So take a step back and decide.
Using the right level and right amount of interactivity is the key! What do you think? Please do share.