How to Develop a Highly Interactive <br>Online Training Program
Instructional Design

How to Develop a Highly Interactive
Online Training Program

No one wants to take static online courses nowadays. With advances in technology, like augmented and virtual reality, learners expect more than just text and videos.

The good news is that most tools course creators are already using have features to support interactivity. This makes implementing an interactive online learning program much easier.

How To Create Interactive Online Training Modules

Creating an interactive online training module won’t be complicated, as long as you choose the appropriate elements based on your objectives and audience. Let’s have a look at a few ways you can make online courses more interactive: 

1. Incorporate an interactive element on each slide
2. Use digital storytelling in your courses
3. Include Interactive 360° images / video
4. Create a simulated environment where learners can freely practice
5. Devise branching scenarios

Now, let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Incorporate an interactive element on each slide

An interactive online training program wouldn’t be one without the interactive elements. As a rule of thumb – especially if you are using slides/pages – include interactive elements on each slide or page, as much as you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a simple press of a button to make something pop up or a simple drag-and-drop activity. What’s important is that the learner has to take action to progress.

When you create interactive training in PowerPoint, for example, make sure that the learner has something to do on every slide. The lack of consistent interaction in an online course (or the absence of it) kind of defeats the purpose of immersive training programs. You want active learners, not passive spectators.

2. Use digital storytelling in your courses

Digital storytelling is a relatively new term that involves characterizing a person’s ‘story’ through digital means. Also, it is the users/learners who generate content for this approach.  But, the most critical aspect of digital storytelling is that it invokes emotions.

An excellent example of using digital storytelling is if you’re building online training programs for employees. You can use digital storytelling to document employees’ day at work, and then use that as content for a course. This can help in onboarding new employees, and can also set the proper expectations for particular roles in the organization.

You can also include the learners’ experiences by having them document their learning themselves. This can be as easy as posting on social media, like ‘live-tweeting,’ taking pictures and videos and posting them on the intranet, or giving short testimonials for the course. The key to making digital storytelling successful is that these ‘stories’ can be seen, accessed, and used as content on the course itself.

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3. Include interactive 360° images / video

The use of interactive 360° video is also a welcome addition to any interactive training program. What this does is it allows the learner to look around the environment. Immersive learning experiences require the audience to take control of the learning environment – and this is definitely one way to do it!

Interactive videos like these are best used for virtual tours and depicting working environments. Another great use for this type of media is having learners interact with different characters in a scene.

And oh – employing this type of interactive media is also a precursor to using VR (virtual reality) for learning! So, if you have plans of implementing VR learning in the future, you might want to get more knowledgeable on this type of media as early as now.

4. Create a simulated environment where learners can freely practice

One of the most significant needs of learners is an environment where they can freely practice learned skills without fear of judgment or the dread of making mistakes. An interactive online training program that simulates a controlled working environment is exactly what learners need.

These online learning environments can be reviewed and revisited by learners until they have mastered the learning objective. And because they’re ‘safe’, they’re great opportunities to show learners the possible consequences of making wrong choices – without the actual upheaval.

All in all, online learning environments don’t only engage learners more, but they also encourage exploration.

5. Devise branching scenarios

Branching scenarios put learners in charge of how the entire course will go. Learners have the power to change the story’s direction based on choices they make at certain decision points. Each decision point affects the flow of the entire course.

Branching scenarios make the course more of an adventure-type game – with different endings and storylines depending on learners’ choices. It also makes learners more engaged in the course as compared to a linear storyline. More importantly, using branching scenarios is a great way to assess learners’ decision-making, critical thinking, and analytical skills.

5 Ways To Create A Highly Interactive Online Training Program - TalentLMS Blog

Interactive online learning essentials

– What is interactive training?

It’s easy to see the importance of incorporating interactivity into learning. But still, many struggle to answer the question: what is interactive learning? Interactive training can be thought of most simply as “participative” learning. This is because, in interactive training, learners are active participants in their own learning process.

Turning pages, clicking “next” and sitting back to watch a video just don’t cut it as interactive eLearning activities. Rather, interactive learning involves real-life decision-making, problem-solving and intent from the learners. This kind of training supports the learner, not only in gaining new knowledge and information but also in sharpening their skills in critical and creative thinking.

– What constitutes an interactive online training program?

Online interactive training programs are defined by the inclusion of interactive elements in courses. These interactive elements also have different extents of complexity. For example, the most basic courses don’t have any interactive elements – meaning that these are passive training courses that usually consist of reading a text, watching videos, or listening to audio clips.

Some courses would include basic participant activities, like clicking or pressing hot spots and doing drag-and-drop tasks. More complex courses require intermediate learner interaction, like animated video, customized audio, and interactive images. These modules also usually include branching scenarios, digital stories, and more complex drag-and-drop tasks.

The ideal interaction in a course, though, is the immersive learning experience. In these instances, the audience has full control of the learning environment. Think of open-world, interactive, immersive games – that’s how most of these learning modules go.

Interactive eLearning programs can have a mix of these different elements and amount of interaction. While fully immersive courses require a bit more technical know-how (and more resources), it’s still possible to include the very basic to the most complex elements of interactivity in a course.

– Why should you implement interactive online learning in your training program?

Having an interactive online training program has its perks. The first benefit is that it enhances exploration. When learners have the ability to explore a learning environment, they feel more interested and keep coming back for more.

Another benefit is that interactive simulations are based on reality-based situations. They provide better learning opportunities than lectures or static text or videos do. These types of scenarios give the learner the chance to put knowledge into action.

The third advantage of an interactive online training program is that it allows the software to assess learner performance spontaneously and non-intrusively. Assessments for interactive courses usually take place as decision points for branching scenarios, instead of formal quizzes or tests.

But, the most important benefit of making online classes more interactive is that they tap into learners’ emotions, which increases knowledge retention. There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes: “Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn.” If the ancient Chinese knew what we know now? They’d have added: “Make me feel. I’ll improve.”

Aside from making a more memorable impact on your learners, immersive online training programs also boost engagement and motivation.

– Which are the top interactive eLearning activities?

Many organizations assume that they don’t have the time or resources to ‘go interactive’. But actually, truly interactive activities aren’t difficult to implement. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of interactive eLearning that get the learner involved.


Simulations use compelling, thought-provoking stories that capture and keep the learner’s attention. Think of simulations as highly relevant, tangible case studies that have been brought to life.

A good simulation starts with a problem that learners relate to. For example, if you’re training a sales team to improve their negotiation skills, create a simulation of a difficult negotiation with a customer.

Incorporate interactivity by peppering in quiz questions, opportunities to explore content through links and downloads, and links to discussion forums where learners can share their thoughts.


When you pop a short quiz under a section of content, or even within a video, you snap the learner out of their passive learning trance.

Quizzes can be graded or ungraded, but they’re always considered “knowledge checks”. They can also be used to test whether learners know anything about upcoming sections already, as a “preview” of upcoming content.

Multiple Choice, True/False, Sequence, Fill-in-the-Blank, Drag-and-Drop, and Rating Scale questions are all viable ways to incorporate quizzes into interactive eLearning activities.


Scenarios provide a risk-free environment in which to practice tricky skills. Like simulations, they present an immersive situation with realistic characters that learners can relate to.

Learners select a course of action from the options available, and the scenario plays out the consequences of that decision. Then, they have to select a path to deal with these consequences to reach a desirable outcome.

Scenarios test how well learners have internalized content by measuring their ability to make decisions in an ambiguous situation. In this way, they’re ideal for developing critical thinking.

Storytelling games/ Gamification

Who doesn’t want to have fun while they learn? eLearning games are a popular choice among interactive eLearning examples, because they package learning in a fun shell.

eLearning games are a natural extension of simulations and branching scenarios. But, what makes games different is that they incentivize the learner with badges and points for improving their skills. They can also provide a competitive element through leaderboards.

Games can also take other forms, depending on the content. They can use an existing structure from TV game shows, like Jeopardy, or imitate simple video games, like Minesweeper.


Microlearning involves creating short (very short) pieces of content. While traditional content may take 10-15 minutes, each piece of microlearning content is limited to under three minutes.

This short learning time makes learning on the go (and on mobile) more convenient. Have five minutes while queueing? That’s enough!

Microlearning is also efficient. There’s no room for tangents or complicated allegory. Finally, microlearning is a blessing for the online attention span. Almost anyone can stay focused for three minutes.

All of these activities can make eLearning more interactive by placing the onus on the learner to stay engaged, link concepts, and test their own knowledge.

The lowdown on how to make training interactive

Now that we’ve discussed what makes courses interactive, the different levels of interactivity you can have, and a few key ways you can make your training interactive, you might be asking “Yes, but is it really that simple?” 

The short answer is yes. There’s technology already available to help your team create an immersive and highly interactive online training program. You don’t need to spend that much or even be that technically proficient to pull it off.

With the right combination of hardware and software to create online training modules, and some creativity, it’s entirely feasible to create an interactive online training program. 

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