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Interactivity in e-Learning

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What is interactivity in elearning?  Chris Pappas (2015) defined it as the “dialogue between learners and e-learning tools through which learners become engaged and involved in the e-learning process.” Interactivity is held as the major ingredient in the success of e-learning segment, but what qualifies as interactivity. Some hold that clicking the Next button provides interactivity, but others derisively refer to that type of interactivity as “page turning.”  Others hold that videos with complex scenarios and intricate branching qualify as interactive, but its high cost makes it unfeasible for some organizations. There is no one answer, because each e-learning differs in content, budget, your technical infrastructure, and the target audience.

e-Learning Interactivity Levels

There are four levels of e-learning Interactivity that help you to ascertain which level of e-learning is best suited for your situation.

1.      Passive Interactivity – this has little to no interaction. Because of its linear nature, the learner may not even have a next button to click (hence the nickname “page turner).  Because of its use of simple images, graphics, simple video and audio, and test question, it is effective in conveying simple concepts and information inexpensively.

2.       Limited Interactivity – offers the learner some control over their e-learning experience in the form of navigable menus, interactive exercises (i.e. drag and drop), animation, and multi-media. This level is used for on-the-job performance, basic skill development, and maintenance lessons.

3.      Moderate Interactivity – the level of interactivity is more customized and complex. At this level, the learner has more control over their learning which may include animated video, customized audio, complex drag and drop, simulations, stories and branching. This level is best suited for teaching problem-solving activities and introducing new software environments (i.e. interactive simulations).

4.      Full e-Learning Interactivity – this is essentially the “anything goes” level. It is here that the learner has the highest degree of control of an e-learning course which can have superior graphics, super charged interactivities, complex animations, gaming technology (some may use 3D simulations), avatars, etc. The goal is to change the learner’s attitudes to get the best performance. Level 4 is used when the learners are expected to apply their knowledge in real life situations.

While it is easy to get carried away, the goal of e-learning is to engage to enable the transfer and retention of content (information) to the learners in a manner that is compatible with your technical infrastructure, budget, and target audience. It is important to remember that not all types of interactivity are equally effective. Depending on the objective for the content a picture, graph, or even music can be effective as interactivity. A picture of a small child being carried out by a firefighter can be effective when listing reasons for addressing trauma in behavioral health. Or you could use a graph to show the mechanisms by which ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) influence the health and wellbeing of a child throughout his/her life span  Laurie Materna (2007, p. 78) observed “Music can set the stage for learning…lowers blood pressure temporarily…allows more blood and oxygen to be available for brain activity... [and] …enhances spatial-temporal reasoning and mathematical skills.”

Best Practice: Too many slides with fonts dancing around and changing colors can be overwhelm the senses, apply the old adage that “too much of a good thing can…” create distress. Use interactivities judiciously. 


Works Cited

Materna, L. (2007). Jump-start the adult learner: how to engage and motivate adults using brain compatible strategies (374 ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Pappas, C. (2015, 04 18). eLearning Interactivity: The Ultimate Guide For eLearning Professionals. Retrieved 08 12, 2015, from http://elearningindustry.com: http://elearningindustry.com/elearning-interactivity-the-ultimate-guide-...