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Interactive eLearning

Who doesn’t love a good page turner?

Well, allow me to qualify that. Page turners make terrific novels—but terrible eLearning modules.

When I lay the initial groundwork with my clients for new eLearning projects, one of the critical factors that we discuss is the degree of interactivity to incorporate. Why? We usually avoid “page turners,” our nickname for often uninspired, ineffective courses that let learners click mindlessly through content to reach a multiple-guess quiz, retaining very little.

When thoughtfully designed, technology-enabled learning solutions can help companies accelerate onboarding, increase performance, or reduce risks to their business. Whether lengthy or brief, basic or highly specialized, eLearning courses are incredibly versatile instructional tools with broad potential, as long as the learners stay engaged.

Intrepid Learning’s instructional designers aim to cultivate active participation, reduce the boredom factor, and ensure that learning outcomes serve our clients’ business goals. But how?

Deciding the level of interactivity at the outset

When we meet initially with our clients’ subject matter resources, we work with them to understand their strategic needs and advise them on the appropriate degree of interactivity (levels 0-3), based on the course topic, intended audience, and target outcomes. We open up our toolkit at this stage, demonstrating the eLearning programs that Intrepid Learning offers and providing concrete examples of how the use of matching pairs here and a drop down there can transform passive learning into active participation.

Putting it in context

Of course, pair-matching exercises alone don’t make eLearning effective. Once we’ve helped our clients determine the optimal degree of interactivity for the proposed courses, we start tailoring the content, utilizing a variety of strategies to contextualize learning in an engaging and meaningful way:

  1. Telling a great story. Our instructional designers often present content through real-life scenarios that learners can relate to and that reinforce concepts with concrete problem-solving situations.
  2. Asking open-ended questions. We can foster high-order critical thinking skills by supplanting multiple-choice quizzes with open-ended queries and presenting sample answers in narrative format.
  3. Incorporating open navigation and branching. Learners gain greater control over their learning experience when the course structure allows them to skip familiar topics and concentrate on more challenging areas.
  4. Providing downloadable resources. We regularly include relevant job aids within eLearning modules that can serve later as handy references.
  5. Creating “mentor” characters. Who says eLearning has to feel impersonal? A character that serves as a guide through the learning process can make it more coherent and motivate learners.

The Great American eLearning module

Just as you might do with a novel, we create a story board, insert content, organize it, and divide it into strategic chunks for pacing and impact. Once the client’s subject matter experts and reviewers have provided feedback, we incorporate the approved content into the eLearning technology.

A “page turner” might well serve a client’s needs best, depending on the purpose of the course. Still, with a broad repertoire of strategies of engaging learners and leading-edge eLearning technologies, our instructional designers give our clients numerous options for customizing courses—and ensure they never have to settle for a page turner when they want greater interactivity.

What do you think?

What examples of eLearning have you seen that you consider particularly effective? How would you measure the success of eLearning? We’d love to hear about your experiences with eLearning, so please leave a comment!

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