eLearning, also known as the modern way of learning, refers to imparting education via electronic media that goes beyond the four walls of a traditional classroom. This mode of learning is more personalized and eliminates the physical presence of a teacher to understand the concepts taught. However, the course developers often struggle to overcome the absence of an instructor since guiding the thoughts of the learners virtually is more difficult than it seems. Interactivity plays an important role in such a scenario.
The quality of engaging the viewer or listener in the content is called interactivity. The instructional designers must develop the lesson in a manner that actively involves the learners and pushes them in the right direction. Learners who actively participate in the learning process perform better and retain more. It also defines the learning patterns the learners follow. This article explores the meaning and various levels of interactivity in eLearning. Further, it also inspects its roles and benefits.
What is Interactivity in eLearning?
The term eLearning refers to a form of learning that takes place online using electronic gadgets and technology. Interactivity in eLearning is a form of a dialogue between the technology and the learners. This interaction is somewhat similar to the teacher-student interaction during a classroom lesson.
In a traditional classroom, an educator instructs learners who learn through physical material. This material includes whiteboards, books, research journals, and so on. On the other hand, eLearning involves the use of technology and electronic gadgets that often replace the teacher. Learners have access to a wider range of study material available on the Internet, which contrasts with the limited resource availability of in-class learning.
A stark difference between both is the physical presence of an educator to monitor the learning process. An educator can easily deliver an interactive lesson in the classroom, which is not possible in an eLearning environment. An eLearning environment is where neither the educators nor the learners are physically present. Although learning happens online, interactivity in eLearning acts as a bridge between concepts and their understanding. The interactive elements of the e-lessons engage learners in experiential learning. As a result, learners gain a better understanding of the concepts as they get involved in learning.
Levels of Interactivity
Interactivity in eLearning that happens in stages. There are four stages/levels of interactivity in eLearning.
Passive eLearning Interactivity
Passive interactivity level in eLearning is a clear and direct method. It is entirely based on content assets. For instance, web journals, research papers, podcasts, recordings, illustrations, and more. To elaborate, such courses are relatively passive in nature. Consequently, learners are restricted to on-screen reading and navigation or listening to podcasts and audio. However, this level is only an initial stage in eLearning. It implies that there is no interaction at all between the learners and the study material. Courses with this level of interactivity are less likely to engage learners, thus producing average learning outcomes.
Limited eLearning Interactivity
The second level has limited interactivity in eLearning. This level is again basic yet slightly different from the first one. At this level, learners interact with simple elements in the course, including simple animations or videos. These elements are in the form of clickable tabs, drag-and-drop activities, MCQs, fill-ups, and sequencing. Courses with a limited level of interactivity involve a low level of learner engagement. However, there is a considerable amount of interaction in comparison to the first level of passive interactivity. This means that learners do not deal with text-only information; they can also have a personalized learning experience.
Additionally, this level is good for assessments. The reason is that textual overload is less, which allows more information retention.
Moderate eLearning Interactivity
This level provides a higher control over the course. Learners can follow a non-linear pattern as they navigate through the course. This level particularly focuses on developing the problem-solving and decision-making abilities of learners. The course content majorly promotes knowledge application and transfer. In essence, the moderate eLearning interactivity level addresses real-world problems that require actual representation and practice.
Moreover, this level includes informative feedback along with a practical application of knowledge. Some salient features of eLearning courses with moderate levels of interactivity include the use of complex and narrative animation. It also includes case–studies, multiple-choice questions, drag-and-drop actions, and other such forms of interactive elements.
Full eLearning Interactivity
At this level of interactivity in eLearning, learners interact with the course content fully and also receive feedback. They exercise complete control over learning while they learn and practice their skills. There is a continuous interaction taking place between the learners and the learning material on their screens. Additionally, full interactivity in eLearning helps learners understand complex issues and develops their behavior and attitude. Moreover, it puts various elements of learner’s cognition into use by offering complex learning situations. To do this, fully interactive courses employ interactive videos, AR/VR exercises, gamification, and other such methods. Learners interact with the course by decoding the symbols, listening to audio and stories, as well analyzing various scenarios.
Furthermore, the feedback mechanism of such courses helps learners identify the areas of improvement. Eventually, learners perform better and gain high levels of knowledge.
Roles & Benefits of Interactivity in eLearning
Interactivity plays an important role in all forms of learning. The degree of interactivity in eLearning defines the quality of the course content. It also works to engage learners and motivate them to employ critical abilities for meaningful learning. Additionally, interactive elements induce alertness and activate long-term memory. The following points briefly describe the role and benefits of interactivity in eLearning.
- Causes Reaction: Interactive eLearning involves real-life scenarios that help learners experience learning through virtual reality. It also encourages learners to explore immense possibilities in a stress-free learning environment.
- Encourages Reflection: Interactive eLearning requires that learners reflect upon their learning before they answer. It encourages their involvement and promotes reflective learning.
- Boosts Engagements: Experiential learning induces various responses in the learners. The interactive elements of a course develop different skills along with motivating and engaging the learners.
- Promotes Better Retention: Learners retain more of what they experience in comparison to reading. It engages learners to provide experiential learning, which promotes better retention of information.
- Enhances Motivation: The fun elements of an interactive lesson/course make learning interesting. This works as a motivating factor for the learners who engage in learning.
With continuous developments in education, interactivity has become a must-have element for any course. Instructional designers across the world are experimenting with various forms of interactive elements to design eLearning courses. These elements are designed carefully with the help of technology to target specific areas of learning. Interactive eLearning is not only an essential feature of eLearning but also extends to the business world. Various training programs in the workplace also involve interactivity. In conclusion, interactivity is a crucial requirement at all levels of learning.
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