If you’re like me, the best way to learn something new is by adding food to the equation. So, let’s talk about learning in terms of meal time. When we discuss the core concepts of learning, we label them as “the meat and the potatoes” of the lesson, but let’s not diminish the importance of seasoning.
Nutritionally sound content (while on paper) is good, it’s just not what we crave. So, what’s our best method in making a lesson plan “pop”? When you sprinkle in a dash of interactivity, you can present a whole new flavor to your lesson; the key is just knowing how much to use when building an eLearning course.
When we design our eLearning, we need to have a series of knowledge checks, not just a wall of text the learner must sift through. We can read through entire courses reactively and not dedicate anything to memory. It’s not that the content was bad, it’s just that we aren’t being engaged. We need to consider how to engage the learner in a way that speaks to them.
eLearning is adaptive learning and can be designed with differing levels of immersion. We are more likely to retain what we’ve been learning when the lesson is associated with an activity that requires us to think. Clicking “next” may complete the lesson plan, but there is no proof that the learner has been engaged or has kept any knowledge. If the process of your training becomes mechanical, then the training has to be retooled.
Benefits of Interactivity
Interactivity presents an opportunity to prove that the learner has understood the course materials because interactive features provide immediate feedback. If the learner isn’t quite where they need to be, they’ll know where to look for a refresher. When used thoughtfully, interactivity strengthens the understanding between the learner and the lesson. However, many interactive features can be more problematic than resourceful when applied poorly.
Good interactivity is able to engage the learner to reflect on and analyze the materials they have been presented, and the activities you choose to use should embrace the creative aspects of learning.
Guiding the Learner
The objective when making a lesson is first and foremost to learn. When you design an interactive component, you’re creating a set of rules between the learner and the material. If they have to focus on the design over the substance, your interactivity becomes cumbersome and is now counterintuitive to the learner.
Activities need direction to gauge the learner, but if the activity is designed as an unnecessarily complicated device, they’ll be learning how to get through the course; they just won’t be learning what to get out of the course.
Using Interactivity Effectively
How do you effectively use interactivity then? Well, consider how many ways there are to comprehend a new concept. Can you use more than one method to convey similar learning checks? If you can, then present the learner with multiple methods so they can engage with the concept in the way that is most conducive to them.
Our ability to remember something is diverse as we are, so a good course should account for that. Provide them with a question that demands an answer or an answer that needs a question. By honing their focus on the method that relates to them, the learner will be more confident on their grasp of the materials you’ve provided them.
It may seem like a lot of effort to design something interactive over having just the core content available to your learner, but the objective is to engage as effectively as possible. Quality content that benefits the learner should be memorable. Think about the ways you learn. Chances are others will have similar methods. If you don’t feel like you’re being drawn in by what you’ve made, how can you expect your learner to maintain any interest?
Learners are unique, so a one-size-fits-all approach will not be your best method. We want to be able to cater to as many people as possible, and since variety is the spice of life, pepper in constructive activities that sustain your course. We all have a different appetite in how we learn, so let’s think what is the most appealing course to serve our learners and let it simmer.