Interactivity in e-Learning – Do you need to go up a level?

Posted on : November 21st, 2013
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Interactivity in e-Learning With the wide-spread acceptance and popularity of e-learning, there is a variety of e-learning content being developed for the diverse needs of learners. One of the ways to classify e-learning content is according to the level of interactivity built into the e-content. Interactivity within e-content varies from simple navigational clicks to high-end simulation games – choosing the right one depends on many factors.

  • The target audience: The learner should be able to utilize and appreciate the built-in interactivities.
  • The type of content: Not all content needs interactivity for it to be effective. Forced interactivity is not only a waste of money and time but it also hampers the effectiveness of learning and proves to be an unnecessary distraction.
  • The available technological infrastructure: High-end interactivities often require specific hosting environments and technological support to render well on learner devices. So taking account of the available technological infrastructure is necessary for determining the level of interactivity in an e-course.
  • E-Learning development budget: Finally, available budgets are also a big factor when considering the level of interactivity in e-learning. Interactivities like simple animations, roll-over effects and slide transitions can be built in with readily available tools like MS PowerPoint and a levy of rapid authoring tools. But games or experiential learning, will definitely cost you a more than a bit!

There are four levels of interactivity in e-learning, in the increasing order of sophistication and type of learning delivery.

Level 1: This level offers passive learning in a logical and linear manner. Often looked down upon as mere ‘page-turners’, this level offers simplicity of design, which is quite apt when the objective of the e-course is to just deliver of information. With the minimum budget and time requirements, this type of e-learning content can be quickly developed and deployed on the LMS of an organization.

Existing learning content can be also quickly transformed into e-learning, adhering to the simplicity of level 1 with graphics, images, and simple animations like slide-transitions or roll-overs. With no added distraction, this level often keeps the sanctity of linear learning intact and can be utilized for continuous learning delivery where little or no learner-input is required. Some e-courses of level 1 interactivity do have some simple quizzes or Check-your-understanding (CYU) exercises, but they do not entice the learner much or move away from the flow of information. Since the courses are complaint to e-learning standards like SCORM, the progress of learners can be tracked and basic learner assessments conducted.

Level 2: This level of e-content is most produced and consumed in corporate sector for effective training delivery. It allows the learner to have more control on learning and to get involved with the content a bit more than just simply clicking ‘next’! Pop-ups or hot-spots are created within the content to provide a much-needed break for the learner. Forced navigation structure can ensure that the learner utilizes the interactivity before proceeding to the next slide.

Various scenarios can be built in – from within the workplace or beyond it – to encourage the learners to think about problems in context and find solutions accordingly. Interactivities like ‘drag and drop’ can be built into game-scenarios – for instance, for every right answer, the learner makes a ‘basket’ in a basketball game-scenario. These interactivities are simple, not difficult to develop and definitely take up the interest level of the learner by several notches. A readymade template library of interesting mini games is best suited for clients who have limited budgets but want the e-content to be engaging. Most content development tools like Articulate Suite, Lectora, Captivate, and Dreamweaver offer level 2 interactivities in their native form. These can be utilized to develop interactive e-content quickly and on restricted budgets.

Audio and video are also part of level 2 e-learning content. Audio often accompanies text but does not always mimic it. Videos are typically short clips that help motivate learners like a speech from the MD of the company in an induction e-course.

Level 3: A lot of application-based trainings and HR trainings are developed with Level 3 interactivity, where the learner is actively involved throughout the learning module. The content guides the learners, shows the learners ‘how-to’ as well as encourages them to practice. Increased interactivity offers simulations where the learner is asked to provide the input and the course branches out accordingly. As per the inputs of the learner, the path ahead may be right or wrong. Multiple chances make sure that the learner does not feel dejected but encourages the spirit of trying till you succeed.

The heightened interest and involvement of the learner makes learning effective. It also prepares the learner to utilize cognitive skills into real-life or work-related situations. A very interesting example of this level of e-learning is the following course which instills survival skills and diplomacy in soldiers in the foreign territory. (

Level 4: This level provides the highest level of interactivity by inviting learners to actually learn by ‘doing’ through 3D simulations and games. The learning delivery is in synthesis mode, where a number of outcomes are possible from the learning activity.

In a simulated environment, learner is free to learn and practice new skills. The competitive nature of games brings out even the most reluctant learner to compete against peers. The learner is thus never forced – it occurs through the interactivities of the e-course. With high-end animations, digital avatars and customized audio-visuals, learning occurs real-time.

With the advancements in technology, the level of interactivity in e-content is on a constant rise to higher sophistication. We had discussed the heralding of motion-based learning through emerging technologies like Kinect, Leap Motion and Tobii in our previous post titled “Motion Based Learning: A Modern Turn On Game-Based Learning“. With the help of these, audio and visual input of the learner can also be included, that fosters real-time learning and instant feedback. So, to conclude- there is no dearth of possibilities of building in interactivity in e-learning. Choose wisely according to your needs and available resources to offer effective learning to your learners. For more details on the right e-learning level for your needs, write to [email protected]'

Rachna Kaura

Rachna is associated with e-Learning industry for the past 10 years. In the capacity of a Delivery Manager at G-Cube, she always strive to provide the most effective solution for G-Cube's clients. Learning enthusiast and passionate about developing, managing and leading a wide range of learning & development strategies. Keen to engage on projects that align business objectives to learning solutions and address client pain areas.

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