The attention span of a human being is reported to be on a decline. In fact, it is widely stated that it is a mere eight seconds. The BBC has since disapproved of this theory by citing cases where the attention span has been more than eight seconds.
One example is the binge-watching of Netflix and watching music videos as lengthy as 40 minutes. Nonetheless, these are a few isolable cases since, in general, humans have dwindling attention spans. Enter interactivity. Modern-day consumers prefer interactive content.
In elearning, interactive content is learning material that involves the active participation of the learners as opposed to just listening, reading, or watching. It involves the integration of elements such as quizzes, assessments, graphs, infographics, and interactive white papers.
Content creators can use tools like PowerPoint presentations to add interactive elements like drag and drop features to make it fun.
Also, content creators can include actions such as the mandatory completion of sessions so that one can move to the next. That way, the learner’s attention is captured thereby accomplishing the whole learning objective.
Interactive content introduces the concept of interaction; a two-way action where two parties have an effect on each other. In elearning interaction is meant to spur action as opposed to just passively absorbing information.
To better understand this concept, we will present an example. When you are watching a movie, you are passively consuming the information. However, when you are playing a video game, you are actively participating in the events.
eLearning poses a challenge in introducing interactive content. This is because most of it happens in an asynchronous fashion, therefore, the instructor can’t see the learners’ reactions. However, newer technologies are introducing tools and approaches that make learning interactive even with self-paced courses.
Interactive content is one of the most common elearning topics. For information on other popular elearning topics, visit this page.
The Flow Theory was developed by Hungarian-American psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This model talks about a person’s emotional state when pursuing an activity. When someone is ‘in the flow,’ concentration is usually at its maximum. Nothing else in someone’s surrounding matters when they are in the flow.
Interactivity and Flow
To ensure that your learners go with the flow, you should maintain a balance between the complexity of a topic and their capabilities. When the training becomes too complex, they will get frustrated, bored, and will lose concentration.
On the contrary, if the training is easy for them, based on their abilities, and if they are kept active, learning becomes engaging. Online courses should be developed in a way that concentration levels are high. The result will be a positive learning experience.
The Interest Curve
This is a concept borrowed from gaming. It helps instructional designers to deal with declining learner attention spans. In gaming, it is a graphical representation of a player’s interest in a gaming activity.
The interest curve has four elements that should be considered while developing interactive learning content:
- Initial Interest: Learning best takes place if the learners are interested in the subject matter from the onset.
- The hook: Having an interest in a subject matter is only part of the equation. Maintaining interest is harder. While designing your content, you should include interesting elements. These give your learners an idea of what to expect and provide a sensible interest margin.
Once the margin is achieved, learners will retain their attention even over the less-interesting parts. Examples include video tours and interactive 3D images and videos.
- Valleys: It is important to give breaks to the learners. Never place complex topics next to each other. This will wear out your learners.
- Climax: It is an interactive element that makes the learners demand more content.
If you keep the above factors in mind, you will keep your learners engaged from start till end. Note that it will require a lot of effort but the result will be worthwhile.
Ways of Making Content Interactive
Below are some ways that you can use to incorporate interactivity into your elearning courses.
In most cases, quizzes are given out at the end of a course. However, they are best given throughout the training. For instance, you can draft pop-up questions and give them to your learners from time to time to keep them awake.
Quizzes have advanced, especially, with modern learning management systems. They are no longer just lists of questions. Today, you can include drag-and-drop activities. Learners are asked to sort objects or move them to certain places on the screen based on some criteria.
In elearning, storytelling is a powerful tool that helps to capture your audience’s attention. Human beings have an inert desire for listening to stories. Taking advantage of this strategy is sure to make your learners active during training.
Hyperlinks and PowerPoint Triggers
Hyperlinks can be included in course content to direct learners to new pop-up windows. These windows can be used to include interesting information such as facts and examples. This way, the learner will remember the pop-up window and its content much easily thereby increasing knowledge retention.
You can also configure the hyperlink to direct a user to a drop-down list or some interactive images and videos. PowerPoint triggers are also used when you need to direct learners to a slide show. The slides may contain interesting information, images, or animations.
A branching scenario is an interactive type of learning. It challenges a learner by requiring them to make a decision which then presents consequences. With each consequence comes new challenges and new choices. As the learner makes decisions, the scenario unfolds in unpredictable ways that make the learning interactive and fun.
Branching scenarios present each learner with a unique learning path. The simplest way to apply this concept is by sending learners who give wrong answers to pages containing more information on a certain topic. Similarly, you can direct those who have answered correctly to the next level.
Therefore, the complexity of a challenge depends on the success of the learner. However, it is always not necessary to mark some options as wrong. In this case, you can develop different options for different personality types or include questions that require different problem-solving styles.
A dialogue simulation is an interactive learning exercise that imitates a real-life conversation; with a peer, colleague, or customer. It helps learners to master communication skills even before they venture into the real world.
They help to apply knowledge in a certain context. They also get feedback in the form of an actual reaction from a virtual person and not just a score. Mostly, dialogue simulations are used in practicing negotiations.
The only challenge with this concept is convincing the learners that the environment is real. Nonetheless, it leads to enhanced learner engagement since mistakes are allowed as the learners hone their communication skills.
Gamification is the incorporation of gaming methods and elements to non-game contexts. It involves creating interactive game techniques that teach learners different things.
Game design elements are the building blocks of gamified applications including LMS platforms. These basic elements include points, leaderboards, badges, certificates, checklists, meaningful stories, graphs, avatars, and teammates.
Studies have reported that learners perform better when they engage with each other as opposed to working with an instructor. If learners can be placed into groups where they handle peer-to-peer projects, the levels of interactivity will be greatly enhanced.
Levels of Interactivity
An elearning course has four levels of interactivity which are defined by the extent of engagement developed in the training of online courses.
- Passive Interactivity
This level is straightforward and mostly takes place in a text-based learning environment. There is no interactivity at this level. Learners are provided with links to text-based resources such as blogs and research reports. This level may also include links to images, videos, test questions, and podcasts.
- Limited Interactivity Level
At this level, learners interact with their learning environment through drag-and-drop exercises, animations, and multimedia. There is limited participation at this stage. Hence, the learner is given some level of control.
- Moderate Interactivity Level
At this level, learners have slightly more control over their learning. eLearning courses at this stage are a bit more sophisticated and customized. This level involves moderate interaction and may incorporate audio, animated video, advanced drag-and-drop exercises, stories, simulations, multimedia, and branching scenarios.
- Full Interactivity Level
At this level, the learner is fully immersed in the learning environment. They are given full control over their learning. They are expected to interact fully with the screen at each stage of any course. They are also given timely feedback that helps them in decision-making and guiding them to the next step.
Interactive elements at this level include customized audio and videos, stories, simulations, avatars, and multimedia.
Benefits of Interactive Content
In elearning, interactivity enhances a learner’s sense of achievement. The quality of an elearning course is defined by the degree of interactivity it offers. In fact, interactive content has been credited with creating meaningful learning experiences and critical thinking skills.
Interactivity also has positive benefits such as alertness and memory retention. Below are other benefits associated with interactive content:
Enhances Engagement: Storylines evoke positive reactions. Learners are left wanting for more. In another case, interactive questions create an immersive environment for the learners.
Such interactive activities direct learners’ attention to the course content. Consequently, the learner gets more absorbed leading to better learning outcomes.
Promotes Motivation: Interactive content introduces fun elements that eradicate boredom. As a result, learners participate more willingly. A layer of interest is also created leading to more motivation.
Knowledge Retention: Interactive content leads to curiosity which, in turn, leads to knowledge acquisition. Interactive elements such as multimedia, real-life case studies, and recognition awards result in learning experiences that are memorable for many years.
To add, interactive practical activities such as collaborative projects, drill exercises, and scaffolding improve a learner’s retention. It also improves their skills at the same time.
Emotional Arousal: Real-life scenarios introduce actors and characters that learners can relate to. These scenarios help learners to sharpen their decision-making skills without taking real risks.
For example, in the medical field, learners are subjected to decision-making situations in life and death scenarios. They practice their knowledge and skills without risking their lives while acquiring the experience needed to handle such life and death situations.
Therefore, learners learn the consequences of their decisions and actions in a safe environment. Deeper learning experiences and the freedom of making decisions are the result of such a risk-free, non-judgmental learning environment. Ultimately, learners are better prepared to face such scenarios in real life.
Promotes Reflection: Reflection takes place when learners combine their past knowledge and skills with new information. It is a critical step in learning. It causes a learner to ponder back and think about many things regarding the whole learning experience.
As a result, reflection causes a desired attitude change after a course is completed. For instance, if a learner needs a solution to a problem, their thinking will be a critical element in achieving an objective.
The learner weighs the pros and cons of the solution which influences them to choose a more appropriate path. In elearning, interactivity introduces feedback that refines the judgment process and presents a variety of problem-solving strategies.
Features of an Interactive LMS
A modern LMS platform allows learners to socially interact with peers and instructors. They are able to share course links, study materials, and quizzes. They can also engage in live chats, instant messaging, and forums.
Learning is enhanced by introducing gamified elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards. These elements introduce competition and cooperation.
An LMS that recommends courses to users leads to higher adoption rates since, in most cases, learners will take these recommended courses. The result is a high level of engagement with your platform.
Responsive UI (User Interface)
A platform’s layout including icons, graphics, videos, and color schemes positively leads to user interaction. A well-designed UI will attract your users and keep them engaged in your courses.
When learners are given the option of accessing course content through their smartphones and tablets, their engagement with your course content is enhanced.
Hence, a good LMS will display its content on any screen size and shape. This also helps the learners to switch from one device to another depending on the environment they are in.
Get an Interactive LMS Today
Interactive content helps to keep learners active and glued to your courses. To achieve your training objectives, your learners need to digest and absorb your course content and not lose interest at any stage.
Today’s modern LMS platforms give you the option of creating interactive content. If you are looking for such a solution, Tovuti LMS is your answer. It has a variety of interactive features to keep your learners active and engaged throughout your training courses.