Thursday, September 10, 2015

How Essential are Learning Interactions to eLearning?


There is probably no doubt that learner engagement is paramount, for the success of any course. In a face-to-face training, the instructor/trainer interacts directly with learners and ensures that they are tied up in the course. However it’s altogether a different ball game for self-paced eLearning and online courses, which lack human touch. 

I think, interactivity and interactions can play an important role there. Interactivity is said to create a meaningful interchange between the learner and the course, through which active learning takes place. So, how essential are learning interactions to eLearning? It occurred to me that I could actually get this query answered from some eLearning experts.  I mentioned this to my team and we got into action. We got an expert panel together and put forth this question to them. Each of them had a lot to share, and most of them had similar opinion on the question. I have picked up the key excerpts from all conversations. Here is it for you all to read:

Joe Ganci, Owner, eLearning Joe
“eLearning should always include as much interactivity as possible. It really is a travesty that today most eLearning seems to be very linear in nature and without a lot of interactivity included. Only when you include interactivity, you really help learners to do rather than just watch, and watching doesn’t really help people learn. In fact as often as possible if we can allow them to make mistakes while they are doing, that’s when they are really learning, they are learning from their mistakes. In real life that’s how we learn as well. We don’t learn by watching something, we learn by doing something. When we are creating eLearning, we need to replicate that real life experience as much as possible.”

Barbara Carnes, Ph.D., Carnes and Associates, Inc.
“Interactions are very important. Interactivity and engagement resolve empire levels of learning, but the issue with a lot of eLearning in the past and I think to some extent in the present is that people simply put through slides. To get past looking through the slides and help people learn more , retain more and use more, it’s important to have them be engaged. The way to help them be engaged is by having interactivity.”

Nigel Paine, Learning Consultant and Managing Director, nigelpaine.com Ltd.
“I don’t know whether there is a grade above essential because that’s how important learning interactions are to eLearning. It’s not just a ‘nice to have’ or something that would be good if you have the time and the money. If you are serious about making it eLearning as opposed to ePage turning, then interactivity is at the heart of the learning experience, learning processes and student motivation. I can’t emphasize enough on how essential learning interactions are for eLearning.”

Dr. Ann Jackson, Ed.D., Educational Consultant
“Over the past several years, interactive learning has become an expectation in eLearning. Interactive learning objects serve many purposes like increasing attention, maintain learner engagement, improve retention and really enhance the overall learning experience. Today, interactivity building tools are so easy to use and cost effective that they have enabled interactive learning to become a norm instead of expectation.”

Matthew Mason, Owner, iDesign Training
“Interactions are pretty essential. If you are not getting engagement from your learners or if you are not interacting with them, then why to even think of bothering to put together an eLearning course, why not just send them a pdf document that they can read. The purpose of having eLearning is that people actually are able to interact and apply their knowledge through those interactions.”

So, this was what each one of them had to say. Having heard all this, I feel glad to be a part of Raptivity team, a team that could gauge the importance of learning interactions years ahead of time. Raptivity is one the world’s most acclaimed interactivity building tools that enables trainers, educators, instructional designers and eLearning course creators to create learning interactions quickly from its vast library of interactivity templates. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the methods, tools and technologies you use to create interactive learning.