I have started this blog post series to talk about a few signs that help you determine if your eLearning program has delivered what it was supposed to. In the earlier post, we have discussed about identification of the real eLearning client which is, the Learner. In case you missed it, please follow the link below to visit the post before having a read here.
Moving to today’s post, every day at work, we deal with several clients who constantly talk about their need for a highly engaging course. How do we deal with this requirement? Have we successfully delivered such engaging courses? If yes, what is our definition of an “engaging” course? Read through.
Sign 2: If You Fail to Limit the Interactivity in your Course
Early in my career, I was introduced to the topic “interactivity in eLearning”. The trainer explained the topic with great interest, describing the hunger that clients have, for this interesting element. He emphasized more on how it attracts the client’s attention, using the word “learner” once in a while. Being a newbie, I was more inclined towards pleasing the client as this was the initial stage of my career.
I went on to develop courses that had significant amount of interactivity and yes, my clients smiled. I pursued this strategy for quite some time until I encountered a key client, a knowledgeable one, who changed my perspective towards this sensitive component of eLearning.
We had to develop a course for automobile mechanics. This course was intended to teach about service and repair of the company’s new automobile. The course mostly included videos that describe the procedures of service and repair. Before these videos appeared on the course, we had to explain some basic concepts such as the working of various components of the automobile. I went on to develop the course with good use of my beloved strategy, interactivity. My project manager tried to sell this strategy to the client calling it a highly engaging course that would retain the learner’s attention throughout the course, just the way he did with the other clients.
After a few days, the client came back with a feedback. He said that they have tested the course with a few end users in their unit and the results were not very pleasing. Showing us the screens, where we used interactive elements such as clickable tabs, pop-ups, drag & drops, etc., he said that the learners were more interested in using the mouse to click and interact (play) with these elements than learning from the content that was displayed on the screen. The learners did not use computers often and hence these courses which are filled with a lot of interactivity, felt almost like a videogame to them.
One of the things the client said that day caught my attention. He said “I asked for a highly engaging course, not a highly interactive one”.
This was just one scenario. There is a misconception in the eLearning industry that higher the interactivity in a course, better are the chances of engaging the learner. But this is not always true.. The content should be presented in such a way that, it generates interest in the learner to absorb the information that’s being transferred. This interest is termed as “engaging” in the eLearning terminology.
Earlier, companies used to reduce the extent to which they use interactivity in their courses due to time constraints. Now, with the advent of rapid authoring tools, anyone can develop an interactive course, easily, in quick time. This has brought in a change in the learning experiences that helped learners in a few instances, while averting their attention in many more.
If planned properly, a screen that is filled entirely with text can be more engaging than one with rich media elements and interactivity. Overloading your course with interactive elements will not produce the desired results. Plan your interactivity in such a way that it triggers an urge to learn further about the concepts rather than a mere hand movement.
Finally, I would say if you successfully limit the interactivity in your course to serve the purpose it was supposed to, your training program is a hit. Interactivity is a blessing if properly used, but could turn into a curse if over-used.
In the coming post, we will discuss the next sign which is – “If you fail to pick the right instructional strategy for your course”. Feel free to share your views and experiences in the comments section below. Happy eLearning!!