Schone's Engaging Interactions For eLearning: A Review

A Review About Schone's Engaging Interactions For eLearning

Almost ten years after its first online publication, B. J. Schone's Engaging Interactions For eLearning eBook is still a popular handbook for Instructional Designers. For those of you who do not know, Schone's eBook includes, as mentioned in the subtitle, 25 ways to keep learners awake and intrigued. In other words, it contains 25 different interaction models that can be used for a better and more engaging eLearning experience.

But, what makes an experience engaging?

According to Schone, an experience can be engaging for a learner if he/she:

  • Faces some type of challenge,
  • Makes decisions.
  • Is allowed to explore.
  • Is allowed to make mistakes without the fear of being disciplined.
  • Is having fun.

These are just a few examples. Instructional Design theory includes many more examples, but the one thing that is important, in all of them, is the interaction between the learner and the educational material. And with the term "interaction", Schone refers to "a learning activity where an individual is presented with a problem or scenario and must work to achieve a goal". However, this learning activity can not be arbitrarily designed. This means that there must be a specific design plan, that includes not just a scenario, but also a challenge and feedback in every step. The eLearning activity must have an overall purpose, in order to keep the learner motivated and engaged. A great example for creating effective eLearning interactions is the CCAF Model. But, you must always keep in mind the educational material, the context, the knowledge and skills of you audience, before choosing or creating an eLearning activity that best applies to your course.

Levels Of Interaction

In his eBook, Schone defines four different levels of interaction. Each interaction level has its own criteria and prerequisites that separate it from the rest. The interaction levels are classified as follows:

  1. Passive, where the learner is only the receiver of information, whether it is text, graphics, videos, or charts, and interacts only by using navigation buttons.
  2. Limited interaction, where the learner makes responses to simple exercises, such as multiple choice quizzes, or interactive animations.
  3. Complex interaction, where the learner is prompted to fill text entry boxes and interact with graphics or simulations to see the overall impact of his/her intervention to a process.
  4. Real-time interaction, where the learner is engaged in a real-life scenario or simulation and interacts with other learners and a facilitator in a collaborative environment.

When an Instructional Designer is familiar with this kind of knowledge, then it is easier for him/her to create properly tailored eLearning activities. Moreover, an Instructional Designer must also be aware about the knowledge types. For Schone, the combination of the interaction levels and the knowledge types is the most important part when designing an effective eLearning interaction activity.

Knowledge Types

According to the Cognitive Domain Theory, as developed by Andersen and Krathwohl, there are 4 different types of knowledge:

  1. Factual Knowledge refers to terms, facts and details that learners must know in order to understand a discipline or solve a problem.
  2. Conceptual Knowledge, is knowledge about classifications, principles, theories and models that relate to a specific subject.
  3. Procedural Knowledge, is about methods of "how to do or how to solve something".
  4. Metacognitive Knowledge, is about the awareness of how each person acquires knowledge and the knowledge of self.

Interaction Models

There are 25 interaction models which appear more often in eLearning courses. Schone has classified them in order of increasing interactivity. Each interaction model is accompanied by a description, an example, the level(s) of interaction and the knowledge type that can be achieved. Some illustrative examples are the following: Scattered steps, myth or fact, interactive timelines, exploring a complex process, and branching stories.

For example, below is the interaction model "Myth or Fact":

Description Present the learner with a series of statements or phrases and have them categorize each as Myth or Fact. Provide feedback to prevent misunderstandings, and make sure to reinforce the facts. This interaction can be used to dispel common misconceptions.
Example Show myths and facts about a new cleaning product that is used for cleaning kitchens. Have the learner identify which statements are false (myth) and which are true (fact).
Level of interaction 2
Knowledge type Factual

A Conclusion

Schone's eBook is a valuable handbook for everyone interested in Instructional Design in eLearning. Schone has done a remarkable work providing examples for each interaction model and combining them to the appropriate interaction levels and knowledge types. All of the 25 interaction models are quite flexible and can adapt to any subject depending on the needs and existing knowledge of the learning audience. It is up to the Instructional Designer how they will integrate these interaction models to his/her eLearning course in order to create meaningful and engaging eLearning activities.

Check Schone's Engaging Interactions For eLearning.