From education to employment

How to Make an Online Course Interactive

Why is it that some people can become so absorbed in video games they’ll play for hours at a time, but might struggle with making it through a one-hour class or webinar without losing focus? The reason is that games are interactive, requiring players to be both cognitively and physically active, making choices and responding to consequences. Game play experiences are unique, and even members of a group or team may have different outcomes. Games engage the players by capturing their imaginations and motivating them to succeed.

Conversely, poorly written learning experiences allow learners to be both cognitively and physically passive. Learners are deprived of choices, may be forced down the same path as their peers regardless of their prior knowledge on the topic, and may be limited to the binary outcomes of either pass or fail, with no nuance as to how to arrive at that destination. Learners may describe these situations as dull or boring, and all in all, this is not a motivating experience. 

Education doesn’t have to be this way! Online learning allows for customization of the learning experience, engaging interactions, multiple branches for diverse learners, and more. Modern day eLearning authoring tools make the construction of these learning experiences a simple and easy process, through the use of prebuilt interactions and templates that can be customized at the click of a button. 

Ready to learn more about how you can create an online course that uses meaningful interactions that truly engage learners? Let’s explore how this can be done. 

What is Interactive eLearning and Why Does it Matter?

Examples of interactive eLearning are any course that requires learners to do more than passively scroll through text, or simply click “Next.” Interactions can include click to reveal, drag-and-drop, the ability to choose your own path or route through the course, and quizzes with feedback. 

Well-designed eLearning can do so much more than function as a replacement to textbooks. Requiring your learners to simply scroll does not engage them at a high cognitive level, and when cognitive activity is low, so is enjoyment and retention. Simply put, if they aren’t engaged, they won’t perceive your course as a worthwhile learning experience, and aren’t likely to remember the content or be able to apply it after “learning” it.

4 Ways to Make Interactive Learning Content 

Here we’ll explain what kind of really engaging eLearning content you can create with the iSpring Suite authoring tool. In essence, iSpring Suite is an easy-to-use but powerful authoring toolkit that is designed for fast online course creation. It allows you to build courses with quizzes, screencasts, dialogue simulations and other interactive activities. 

Let’s explore four commonly used features within iSpring Suite that create highly engaging courses.

1. Create branching scenarios

Branching scenarios allow learners to choose their own path through a course. By having the ability to make choices, your learners will be empowered and feel like they are active players in the learning process. Their decisions will have consequences, and they can receive feedback throughout their journey.

You can consider designing scenarios that become increasingly challenging as the learner progresses, or scenarios built with specific learner personas in mind (such as learners’ personality traits, or job profiles).

When using branching scenarios, not every learner may have the same experience, which puts an end to mundane courses. Learners will benefit from receiving the content they are seeking at the time they are seeking it, as opposed to being presented with a “one-size-fits-all” experience that may not truly meet their needs.

For example, here is a slide from a branched scenario course that explains to new employees how to figure out if something is wrong with gas treatment stations and water purifying units, and shows the possible consequences of taking the wrong approach to a problem. Users have a choice: follow the right path or ignore the problem.

2. Add quizzes

When you build an online quiz, your options are as numerous as the designs available for the content of the course. For example, you could go the traditional route and create a large final assessment at the end of the course. You could also choose to “sprinkle” quiz questions and knowledge checks throughout the course, or both.

You have the option to provide feedback after each question (or not), to determine how many attempts learners have at each question or with the quiz as a whole, and even to create mid-course knowledge checks that function as “gates” that learners must pass through before continuing. The options are endless, and both the quizzing and feedback mechanisms are excellent ways of allowing your learners to engage with the content on a highly interactive level. 

iSpring Suite Max allows you to create quizzes with 14 various question types, from ubiquitous multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions to highly interactive hotspots and drag-and-drops, as in the example below. 

3. Build dialogue simulations

If you’re teaching communication skills or soft skills, digital conversation simulations are fantastic options to allow learners to practice in a safe setting before interaction with others. This can be especially helpful for workplace training, such as customer service or call center training.

With iSpring Suite, these simulations can either be built as part of the presentation of the content, as an assessment, or both. For example, you may have your learners navigate through a simulation of a conversation between an employee and a customer. Then, as their assessment, they must act as the employee in a similar situation, and effectively resolve a customer service issue.

By testing their ability to handle real-life situations in a safe setting, both the instructor and the learner themselves will gain confidence in the learners’ ability to perform before a high stakes conversation in real life. 

Here’s a slide from the car sale dialogue simulation created with iSpring Suite. It challenges learners to use tact, know-how, and a bit of aggressiveness to seal the deal.

4. Use interaction templates

The beauty of eLearning authoring tools like iSpring Suite is that the coding and back-end design has all been taken care of. You just need to select the prebuilt interactions that will help you communicate your message and present your content best. You can choose from various interactions, including interactive diagrams, timelines, and media cards where all you have to do is paste in your content. Prebuilt templates bring your course to life in minutes and create a polished and professional appearance.

For example, with iSpring’s interaction templates, you can create a catalog to help employees quickly navigate through the products offered by the company, as in this example:

Final Thoughts

Interactivity is about more than just special effects that dazzle your audience of learners; meaningful interactions not only help you convey your content in truly engaging ways, but also help you assess your learners in true-to-life situations. By engaging your learners, your courses will be both more enjoyable and more effective, leading to higher retention and more application of the content.

Authoring tools like iSpring Suite make course creation a simple and enjoyable process, by providing you with prebuilt interactions and templates that help you save time and money throughout the design process, and help you focus on what really matters – the effective presentation of your content.

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