Creating Highly Interactive & Engaging eLearning
A key element in developing successful eLearning courses is to create effective interactions with the student that are challenging and reinforce learning. Regardless of the type of training you’re developing (software, concept, professional development, or how to), interactions make the training more engaging for the student and help them figure things out for themselves.
To build useful interactions, you need to follow a few simple guidelines.
First, have regularly spaced interactions to keep the student engaged. Provide different types of interactions like multiple choice, fill-ins, matching, and clicking on hot spots. Create an interaction every 3 to 6 screens.
Second, ensure the interactions are meaningful and not contrived. Students want challenging and thought provoking interactions to help cement their learning.
The next point makes the most difference. To develop a meaningful interaction on the screen, look for something that you’re trying to state/tell and turn it into a question instead. For example, suppose I was going to tell the student, “From an end user perspective, the key operational difference between a mainframe computer and a PC is that on a mainframe, multiple people can interact with the mainframe computer simultaneously.” Instead of stating this, I would ask, “What is the difference between a mainframe computer and a PC?” Making this question work has to do with what I believe most students already know coming into the course and the rest from how I set up the question with information presented on the preceding screens. The choices provided should be challenging. All too often multiple choice questions answers are painfully obvious and students perceive them as trivial.
When designing a question, provide intelligent feedback for both right and wrong answers. For example, if the student answered correctly, “That’s great! You obviously know the difference between the two.” If the student answered incorrectly. “Well, that’s a good try but the real difference is that mainframes support multiple users at the same time.” Too often eLearning programs state either “Correct” or “Incorrect” and fail to provide supportive feedback to the student.
Support your instructional text (or voice track) with supporting graphics and animations. Be sure that the text speaks to the graphics and animations, rather than just using them as a somewhat disassociated element on the screen. The combination of text and graphics will be much more effective allowing the student to learn and answer questions as well.
Most of what I discussed here can also be applied in classroom training. Actually, it’s more fun since you can ask somewhat broad open-ended questions, interpret any answer you get, and then provide differential feedback until the students figure out the answer. I’ve done it and it’s tremendous fun.
Good luck and may your interactions be plentiful.
2008 Larry LaBelle. Printed with Permission.