From eLearning Industry by
How To Apply Instructional Interactivity In eLearning
The design of effective eLearning environments relies primary on cognitive load’s management and the enhancement of their instructional efficiency. Interactivity plays a great role in the latter, as instructional interactivity stimulates your learners’ minds by responding to their actions and helping them constructing and demonstrating the knowledge you are offering them. Instructional interactivity should not be confused with eLearning interactivity. The instructional interactivity concerns interactions between learners and eLearning applications and systems, whereas eLearning interactivity is about interactions between learners and the content of the eLearning course.
In other words, eLearning interactivity relates to a plethora of mechanical actions that learners are required to do in order to perform tasks, such is eLearning navigation, whereas instructional interactivity involves cogitative, deliberate activities on the learners behalf, in order for them to achieve eLearning objectives. Instructional interactivity, when done right, motivates learners to think, analyze, reflect, and learn effectively, so it is crucial that it is carefully designed.
According to CCAF Design Model by Dr. Michael W. Allen, the four components of instructional interactivity are Context, Challenge, Activity, and Feedback. In this article I will examine each component separately and show you how to effectively apply them in your eLearning course, so that you can offer your audience a powerful and highly interactive eLearning experience.
The context of instructional interactivity is the framework that points out the situations where your learners will be required to perform their eLearning skills. Its application focuses on increasing learner motivation by adding meaning to the eLearning course and enhancing your audience’s eLearning experience. Consequently, you need to be sure that it is deeply relevant to your learners, so that you can help them relate it to their real life situations and visualize the various alternatives available, as well as the value and the outcomes of their actions. The most effective ways to apply instructional interactivity in your eLearning course is the use of real world benefits scenarios, stories and graphics. Storytelling and scenarios are both great strategies that enable your learners to manage several situations while developing their cognitive skills through reflection, because they require them to provide answers or perform tasks. At the same time, graphics offer the visuals necessary to define the context, while providing the necessary look and feel to engage your learners in your eLearning course.
Challenge, as a component of instructional interactivity, triggers the cognitive and physical behaviors in your learners. Simply put, you need to challenge your audience, so that you can prepare them for the real challenges they will face in their personal or professional lives. Your aim is to trigger your learners’ interest and curiosity, to teach them how to think before effectively acting, and, of course, to create the suitable framework within which they will face a difficult situation and solve a problem. The difference here with eLearning interactivity is that you don’t challenge your learners to engage in mechanical actions such as, for instance, drag and drop interactions, but to create strategies that lead to problem solving. In order to do this, you need to present very clear eLearning objectives. Having a clear idea of what is expected of them, for example to learn how to resolve conflicts at their workplace, your learners will more effectively respond to what is required of them. Create the right questions and assessment exercises that encourage your learners to make decisions, to follow different paths and to face the consequences of their wrong choices. Remember to gradually increase the complexity of the assignments as the eLearning course progresses and also consider rewarding your audience when they succeed.
Activities in instructional interactivity are all the media used to simulate the real world in order for your learners to respond to the aforementioned challenges, build their skills, and communicate the choices they make during the eLearning course’s assignments. Consider integrating a mistake-driven learning approach into the design of the activities to motivate your learners act in a risk-free environment, learn from their mistakes, as well as try again, as many times as needed, in order to fully grasp the idea of effectively responding to real world challenges. Be sure that you provide your audience with as many options and alternatives as possible, always having your eLearning objectives in mind. Activities help learners try different paths and actually face the consequences of their choices, while also providing them with the opportunity to go back and correct their mistakes; a chance that they rarely have in real life. Encourage your audience to carefully weigh the pros and cons of every decision they make before they make it, and, of course, to apply the knowledge they gained from the previous sections of the eLearning course.
Feedback is a powerful eLearning tool that should never be neglected, and it can make all the difference in instructional interactivity. Apart from evaluating your learners progress, it works as a reinforcement of the eLearning concepts taught, which enhances retention. The more constructive (and non judgmental!) it is, the highest the impact on your learners’ behavior. Consider integrating social learning into your eLearning strategy, by, for instance, encouraging online discussions to social media, and welcome your audience to ask questions, share their experiences, and overall interact with their peers. Your learners need reasons why the choices they made were right or wrong, as well as to analyze the consequences of their actions, and the most effective way to do this is a highly interactive eLearning course where they feel they can share their concerns in order to perform better. Finally, never forget that the more related your feedback is to the real world, the more useful it will be to your audience.
Now you know what it takes for designing effective instructional interactivity, you may be interested on how you can successfully design interactive virtual classroom training. Read the article 6 Tips To Design Interactive Virtual Classroom Training where you will find tips that can offer you the chance to develop deliverables that provide your audience with the best possible virtual training experience, so that they can hone their skills, expand their professional knowledge base, and boost on-the-job performance.