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Teaching and Testing – A Balanced Approach for Instructional Design

Have you heard of the phrase – We want an interactive eLearning course?’ Yes, and it’s from the SMEs /customers/ stakeholders, whose main requirement is that the eLearning courses should be interactive.

Interactivity is the most common word used in eLearning. A simple way to define the term ‘interactivity’ is ‘learning by doing’ (Lewin 1951, Brookfield 1986). Interactivities result in learners’ engagement with the course content. A point to note is that these interactivities should be rightly spread over the course. To address this need, I will share an approach and a tool to check interactions in the storyboard.

Most interactions fall into one of the two categories (adapted from Stephanie Dedhar’s work).

Some interactivities such as click-to-reveal (click on tabs, click on images/ icons/ numbers), rollover etc. are used to enhance learner engagement throughout the course. These interactivities break the monotony and promote active and participatory learning. Such interactivities are called ‘teaching’ interactivities and are used in one of these situations:

  • To increase learners’ curiosity and motivate them to learn more
  • To avoid overload of information
  • To allow self-paced learning

The other interactivities are drag-and-drop, multiple choice questions, drop down, matching, arranging, sequencing, etc., which are designed for assessments and are used to test learner’s understanding. Such interactivities are called ‘testing’ interactivities and are used to:

  • Reinforce learning
  • Check the change in behavior

While deciding the interactivity for each screen, it’s important to keep in mind the big picture of how the individual screen fits into the course. The rule of thumb is that every 3rd screen should be interactive. Nevertheless, these interactivities should be aligned with the learning objectives.

The table below shows the title and screen type for each screen.

Unit 1
Learning Objective: Explain the dos and don’ts while working at your workstation
S.No Screen title Screen type What it covers?
1. Introduction Static Purpose of the course
2. Do You Know? Conversation Types of ergonomics
3. Office Workplace Click to reveal Dos and Don’ts
4. Room Temperature Static Factors influencing temperature
5. Assemble Jobs Static Guidelines
6. Check Your Understanding Drag and Drop Question on Dos and Don’ts
7. Summary Static Recap of the unit

The second table below provides an overview of the entire course, considering only screen types.

S.No Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3
 1. Static Static Static
 2. Conversation Multiple Select Sequencing
 3. Click to reveal Static Conversation
 4. Static Click to reveal Static
 5. Static Static Click to reveal
 6. Drag and Drop Matching Single Select
 7. Static Static Static

Color code can be used to distinguish static screens, teaching and testing interactivities. These tables enable us to assess:

  • Flow of the content
  • Balance and spread of interactions
  • Learning points

I hope this approach helps you design a sound storyboard for an interactive eLearning course.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses