One of the perks of digital learning and online training platforms is their ability to use various methods and media to engage the learner’s imagination, demonstrate concepts and stimulate learning.
The use of interactivity as a means to promote learning helps to go above and beyond what Eric Mazur, the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences calls a mere ‘transfer of learning’. Instead, using interactivity and peer-to-peer teaching in his physical physics lectures allowed him to promote ‘learning and retention’ in his students.
‘What I was able to show is that I doubled the learning gains. In fact, it tripled once I got better questions to ask in class and also much longer retention…I’ve never looked back.’ — Erik Mazur, ‘The Benefit of Interactive Learning‘
So how do we implement interactivity? It’s not spontaneous — in digital learning, it must be planned for. Transforming text-based courses and making them more interactive — whether that means requiring on-screen clicks after prompts from learners, interactive sliders, or video-based demonstrations coupled with live quizzes — allows users to explore their environment, collect information and make better decisions going forward.
These are all hallmarks of learning with longer retention, creating a strong motivation to learn, know and experience even more.
At Darlo Digital, we’ve come up with 5 ways to promote interactivity in e-courses, reducing the traditionally heavy reliance course developers have on text-based learning.
Videos have an instant impact and they can create a connection with your learner in an active way that text simply cannot.
There are subtle, non-verbal cues that you can convey to your learners, which can enhance the learning experience. Besides this, videos used as a learning tool can produce other positive effects, including:
- Higher student impact: Videos have been found to be 10 times more effective in creating an impact with concepts learned
- High learner engagement: Using personalised ‘next module’ recommendations
- Appeal to a wide range of learners: From auditory learners to visual learners, every kind of learner profile can benefit from video
- Wide accessibility: Video can be viewed on and accessed on a wide variety of channels, including smartphones/mobile, laptop, and tablets
It’s not only about making ‘dry content more interesting’. In eLearning, the environment is automatically geared towards distraction — you’re only a browser and trackpad-click away from opening up Facebook and watching cat videos.
But eLearning is also built in a digital environment that is geared towards gamification. Forums, point systems, badges, awards and MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are just a few examples of incentive-based gamification techniques at play.
One element of interactivity is being able to provide an incentive or a motivation to not only continue with the modules but actually create productive habits that will allow learners to continue partaking in assignments and collaborations with peers.
Evaluation as a Two-Way Street
Remember the ‘peer-to-peer’ teaching methodology that Erik Mazur used in his Harvard physics class? Well, evaluations can be a two-way street as well.
Peer-to-peer evaluations should be structured as a learning tool along the way. It’s less about grading and more about providing constant and consistent feedback. Since e-courses are all about instant feedback (such as instant quizzes and on-demand lectures), another way to make learning more connective is to give peers a way in which to interact and challenge each other.
Interaction in e-courses occurs, as you can see, can happen in several places, using several tactics, elements and media. But what about the most obvious of opportunities: collaborative video chats and conferencing as a means of discussion.
From Skype to GoToMeeting to UseLoom and Zoom, there are multiple ways for students engaged in e-courses to connect with peers. Through structured assignments and pre-made groups, students should be given a chance to take charge of their own learning and work together in ‘live’ interactions.
There’s an App for That
What happens when you place digital learning in a mobile, on-the-go environment and tie in gamified incentives to continue on? That’s what apps like Babbel and DuoLingo work off of.
Their app’s user interface delivers learning in bite-sized ‘game’ environments where students can move on to the next level and engage in memory games to learn a language in an ongoing way. Since the consistent use of a language is one of the best ways to learn, DuoLingo and Babbel use digital notifications, invitations and integrations to incentivise users and connect the experience to users’ everyday environments.
There are a variety of ways to capture your user’s attention and transform their interaction into a learning experience. Here are Darlo Digital’s five. Use them in conjunction with each other or test them one at a time. But, above all, expect a more active, engaged student.