How to Create a Successful Interactive eLearning Strategy
High quality content, polished design, and easy navigability are three important ingredients of any successful eLearning course. However, one of the most essential elements of an eLearning course design and development is often overlooked; and that is no other than interactivity. Note that even high quality eLearning courses are going to fall short of expectations if the learner isn't fully engaged and motivated to learn. Not to mention that learners won't reap the many rewards your eLearning course has to offer, given that they are less likely to actually acquire and retain the information you're providing.
- Keep it relevant and on-topic!
Offering high quality and meaningful content will keep learners fully engaged and motivated to learn. On the other hand, including information that is general and not specific won't bring any added value to the eLearning course, and may even make the learner question the value of the eLearning course as a whole. So, stay on-topic and always ensure that you offer information that will help them to improve their knowledge base and learn or improve upon a desired skill set. The key to finding what's relevant for your interactive online courses is to not simply include what you think is important, but include what you believe the learner may find valuable. If you are able to find a middle ground, you will be able to develop an eLearning strategy that provides the most benefit for everyone involved.
- Exploration is key to learner engagement.
It's essential that learners are given the opportunity to explore the eLearning course if you want it to be fully interactive. Include links that learners can just click on in order to learn more about the topic, create stories that they need to interact with, integrate visual components that make the topic more eye-catching, and encourage them to explore the module by hyper-linking to other pages that may be of interest. All of these key elements will enable you to create interactive eLearning courses that enhance learners’ engagement and keep them coming back for more knowledge and information.
- Include interactive, reality-based scenarios.
The most powerful tool that you have at your disposal when developing an interactive eLearning strategy is reality-based eLearning scenarios. Integrating real life examples and problems into your eLearning course will give you the chance to draw in the learners and show them, first hand, how knowledge acquired can be applied outside of the learning environment. For example, if you design a scenario that allows the learners to tap into the skills they have learned during the eLearning course, such as technical problem solving or customer service, they gain invaluable experience that can be used on-the-job later on. Making these scenarios interactive by including video, images, and audio, enables you to create an immersive and effective learning environment that motivates and engages the learners.
- Integrate quizzes or assessments at the end of each module or lesson.
Including quizzes and tests at the conclusion of each module not only allow facilitators and creators to assess the effectiveness of the eLearning course, but also offer learners the opportunity to gauge their progress and summarize the content they have learned. Make the quizzes interactive, such as including real-life problems that learners must solve by using their newly acquired skills. Include tests that feature video and/or audio questions. Offer point-and-click games that test their knowledge while steep keeping them engaged. These end-of-lesson quizzes can not only help to avoid boredom, but boost knowledge retention rates as well.
- Tap into their emotions.
Emotional responses can also help learners to better acquire and retain new information or skills. Including videos that may elicit an emotional response or images that may allow them to personally relate to the subject are keys to interactive experiences. Find human interest pieces (such as real-life news and events) that relate to the topic and integrate those into your eLearning course. Just keep in mind that you shouldn't necessarily go for “shock value”, as this will only serve to pull the attention away from the core content.
- Encourage group collaboration.
Get your learners communicating with one another, even if your eLearning course is centered around asynchronous learning. Start group discussions on online forums, encourage them to solve problems collectively via group chats online, and integrate social media sites into your eLearning strategy. Group collaboration enables you to include the human element in your eLearning courses, despite the fact that learners may not be meeting face-to-face. Human interaction gives them the opportunity to learn from other learners' experiences and to explore a topic in depth within a group setting.
- Make your eLearning course aesthetically appealing.
An eLearning course that includes a variety of different multimedia elements and is aesthetically appealing is going to be more interactive than one that relies upon solely text content. Use fonts that are visually pleasing and videos that make a potentially repetitious or dry topic more engaging and attractive. Making your eLearning course attention grabbing and unique will help the learners to connect with the curriculum and get more from the educational experience.
To sum up, videos, images, and other interactive elements you include should not take away from the core content. For example, you should avoid using an abundance of graphics on any given page if you believe that it may distract the learner from the content itself. Only use multimedia and visual components that are relevant to the eLearning course and will help to highlight the principles/ideas, rather than abstract from the important aspects of the eLearning course.