How to develop a highly interactive online training program
Instructional Design

How to develop a highly interactive online training program


It’s no secret that static online courses belong to the past.

With augmented and virtual reality, interactive presentations, and a plethora of advanced technologies, today’s learners expect more than just text and videos.

Luckily, most tools and course creators come with features that support interactivity. And luckily, implementing an interactive online training program has become much more manageable.

 

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How to create interactive online training modules

Creating an interactive online training module doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose the appropriate elements based on your objectives and audience, first, and everything will unfold naturally.

Here are a few ways you can make online courses more interactive:

Time to take a closer look at each practice.

1. Incorporate an interactive element on each slide

An interactive online training program would be completely nonreciprocal without interactive elements. If you are using slides or pages, including interactive elements will boost learner adoption and engagement. It might be a simple click on a button for something pop up or a basic drag-and-drop activity. Anything that can get learners to take action to progress can do the trick.

When creating interactive training in PowerPoint, for example, make sure that learners have to interact with something on every single slide. The lack of consistent interaction in an online course basically defeats the purpose of immersive training programs. And you want active learners, not passive spectators.

2. Add digital storytelling to your courses

Digital storytelling is a creative learning approach that puts learners at the center of attention. With digital storytelling, learners are the ones who control a course’s content as well as how it will unfold. However, what makes it such an effective training method is that it evokes emotions.

Here is an excellent example of using digital storytelling in online training programs for employees: Document employees’ day at work, and use that as content for an onboarding course.

This way, when you’re onboarding new hires, you will set the right expectations for particular roles in the organization and put a human face to your organization.

3. Include interactive 360° images and videos

The use of interactive 360° video is always a welcome addition to any interactive training program. Immersive learning experiences require learners to take control of their learning environment, and interactive 360° media is what this is all about.

Interactive videos like these can be used for virtual tours around actual locations that your learners work (or will work) at, so they can get familiar with them.

Also, employing this type of interactive media is a precursor to using virtual reality for learning. So, if you are planning to implement VR learning in the future, you might want to experiment with interactive video first.



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4. Create simulated environments where learners can freely practice

One of the most significant learner needs is an environment where they can freely practice the skills they’ve learned without the fear of making mistakes. An interactive online training program that simulates a controlled working environment is the solution.

Learners can visit these online learning environments repeatedly until they’ve mastered newly acquired skills and feel confident to put them into action. And since making a mistake in a simulated environment has zero impact in the physical world, they’re great for showing learners the possible consequences of making wrong choices.

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. Add specific decision points to give them the ability to change the story’s narrative based on the choices they make. But since each decision point affects the flow of the entire course, you need to ensure everything works like clockwork.

Branching scenarios make a course feel like an adventure-type game with different storylines and outcomes that change as per your learners’ choices.

Use them to boost engagement and assess your learners’ decision-making, critical thinking, and analytical skills.

Interactive online learning essentials: What is interactive training?

The importance of incorporating interactivity into learning is given. But still, many struggle to answer the question: what is interactive learning?

Interactive training can be described 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 are not considered interactive eLearning activities. And that is because interactive learning involves real-life decision-making, problem-solving, and learner intent.

This kind of training supports learners in gaining new knowledge and information and sharpening critical and creative thinking skills.

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, basic courses usually don’t come with any interactive elements, leading to passive training that usually gets learners to read blocks of text, watch videos, or listen to audio clips.

Other courses include basic participant activities, like clicking or pressing hot spots and drag-and-dropping.

But more complex courses require intermediate learner interaction, like:

  • Animations
  • Customized audio
  • and interactive live images.

These modules also usually include:

  • Branching scenarios
  • Digital stories
  • and more complex drag-and-drop activities.

The ideal interaction in a course, though, is the immersive learning experience. In these instances, the learning 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 also have a mix of all these different elements. While fully immersive courses require a bit more technical know-how, you can start small and add some basic elements of interactivity to a course.

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

Having an interactive online training program comes with a bunch of benefits. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to take a look at just four of them:

  1. It enhances exploration: When learners have the ability to explore a learning environment, they get more interested and keep coming back for more.
  2. Interactive simulations are based on reality-based situations: Scenarios provide better learning opportunities than lectures, static text or videos, and give learners the ability to put knowledge into action.
  3. Assessments that make sense: An interactive online training program allows you to assess learner performance spontaneously and non-intrusively. Assessments for interactive courses usually come in the form of decision points for branching scenarios, instead of regular quizzes or tests.
  4. Interactive training programs build emotion: As an old Chinese proverb says, “Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn,” and this might be the most important benefit of making online classes more interactive. With interactive training, learners feel part of a group, they tap into their emotions and increase their knowledge retention.

But, of course, aside from making a more memorable impact on your learners, immersive online training programs in general boost engagement and motivation.



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Which are the top interactive eLearning activities?

Many businesses argue that they don’t have the time or resources to ‘go interactive’. But the truth is that interactive activities are not that hard to implement.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of interactive eLearning that get learners involved and hooked on their employee training.

Simulations

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

A good simulation starts with a problem that learners can relate to. For example, if you’re training a sales team and you want them to improve their negotiation skills, you need to create a simulation featuring a challenging negotiation with a hard-to-get customer.

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

Quizzes

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

Quizzes can be graded or ungraded, but they always work as “knowledge checks.” They can also be used to test whether learners know anything about upcoming sections already or 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

Scenarios provide a risk-free environment where everyone can practice their skills. Like simulations, they present an immersive situation with realistic characters that learners can relate to and, of course, interact with.

Learners select a course of action from the options available, and the scenario plays out based on that decision. And if their choice was not correct, learners have to figure out how to deal with the situation and reach the desired outcome.

Scenarios test how well learners have internalized content by measuring their ability to make decisions in an ambiguous situation.

This is exactly why they are considered one of the best ways to develop critical thinking.

Storytelling and gamification

Everybody wants to have some fun while learning.

In fact, a recent TalentLMS survey revealed that 83% of employees who take gamified training feel more motivated. Combining gamification and eLearning is a popular choice among interactive eLearning examples because they wrap learning in a fun package.

eLearning games are a natural extension of simulations and branching scenarios. But, what makes them different is that they reward learners with badges and points to motivate them even more, and provide a competitive element through leaderboards.

Games can also take other forms, depending on the content and context. They can use an existing structure inspired by actual TV game shows, like Jeopardy, or just copy basic video games, like Minesweeper.

Microlearning

Microlearning involves creating really short pieces of content that take learners no longer than three minutes to complete.

This way, learning on the go (and on mobile) becomes more accessible, and your learners will be able to take their courses even while commuting or queuing up in the bank.

Microlearning also knocks down tangents and complicated allegories, and its simplicity is a true blessing for your learners’ attention span. After all, anyone can stay focused for three minutes.

The lowdown on how to build interactive training

Now you know what makes courses interactive, the different levels of interactivity you can have, and the best ways to begin and make your training interactive. But the question remains: “Is it really that simple?” 

The answer is yes.

With accessible technology already available to help you create an immersive and highly interactive online training program, you don’t need to spend that much or even be technically proficient.

With the right combination of interactive training software and hardware to create online training modules (plus some creativity from your end), creating an online, interactive training program is entirely feasible as well as entertaining


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