Achieving True Interactivity In Your Online Course
Rachata Teyparsit/Shutterstock.com

How To Achieve True Interactivity In An Online Course

For the longest time, the education process, in all its forms, was something educators applied to the educated, who were passive recipients of knowledge. These days, this approach is no longer viable, especially in online courses, because clients expect their authors to be faster to react to new trends than it is possible with traditional educational institutions. Interactivity is everything! So how does one achieve it?

1. Encourage Group Collaboration

It has been proven time and again that human beings tend to better process information and get more engaged in learning if it is combined with social activity. Even if your online course is based on asynchronous learning, there are ways to get your learners to communicate, and doing so will cause them to open up, share their thoughts and better understand the material. Start group discussions on the forum of your course, integrate your course with social media, encourage the learners to solve problems via group collaboration and group chats online.

2. Use Branching Scenarios

One of the most interesting options online courses open up for training when compared to traditional education is the use of branching scenarios. In practice, it means that learners are given a multi-stage test similar to a choose-your-own-adventure story: on each stage, they have to make a decision, but the decisions themselves aren't binary (right/wrong). They only lead to different outcomes, which means that the learners themselves determine the direction in which the scenario is going to move. Why is it effective?

Firstly, this is one of the best examples of interactivity in learning. Learners make decisions, not just answer questions.

Secondly, it is an excellent way to develop decision-making, critical thinking, and analytical skills by leading the learners through a variety of situations. It can, for example, help with preparing the employees for responses in real time. For example, in a scuba-diving course, you can offer branching scenarios dealing with responses to different crises (with a strict time limit to better express the urgency).

3. Introduce As Many Interactive Elements As Possible

It doesn’t matter what the format of your online course is; if you want to keep the learner's attention, you have to bring the periods he passively perceives information to a minimum. If your course is nothing but long periods of reading or watching videos interspersed with text, the learner will soon get bored even with the most fascinating content. You don’t have to introduce a quiz on every stage, and it may be something as simple as pressing a button, drag-and-drop operations, typing in words, anything that will allow the learner to actively participate in the process. It may be done even in situations that don’t look very suitable; returning to the scuba-diving example above, the learners of such courses expect to be told the right answer. You can spice things up by offering to make suggestions as to what kind of maintenance different types of gear (divers watch, scuba cylinders, rebreathers, etc.) need, and correct them if needed.

4. Gamify The Experience

Many people blame video games for occupying all too much of their kids’ time and attention, causing them to forgo other, more useful activities. However, consider this: people easily maintain focus on a game for hours on end but get distracted every couple of minutes when they study. They enjoy a challenging game but get frustrated by a challenging test. Perhaps there is something about games that learning can borrow to make itself more engaging?

There are many already defined ways to do it: visible progress indicators, tailoring assistance to the learner’s current experience, dividing the learning process into small “chunks” and interspersing them with tangible rewards and so on.

5. Introduce Quizzes Or Other Assessment Methods At The End Of Each Module

Integrating regular assessment stages into your course will not just help you evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching strategy, but it will also give the learners an opportunity to gauge their progress. Seeing the results of the time they’ve spent learning is an essential aspect of motivation.

However, there are few things more boring than multiple-choice tests that are usually used for that purpose, so try to diversify things a bit: introduce real-life problems that learners can solve using their newly acquired skills, use video and audio questions. All in all, you should make sure that the assessment is at least a little bit different every time so that your learners never know exactly what to expect.

Potential ways of implementing interactivity in your online course heavily depend on the kind, of course, you are offering. However, the current level of technology offers multiple ways of doing it for most situations, and we are likely to see course creators competing with each other at who can better implement it.

Close