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Engagement…. How Does That Happen in e-learning?

One of the biggest complaints I hear about e-learning is that “It’s just like looking at a PowerPoint slide show.” When I hear that criticism, I know that the learner has not been engaged by an interactive e-learning offering, but rather sat through a somewhat bland or boring presentation of facts. Even the most high quality content, polished design and easy navigability can’t overcome the lack of interactivity in an online course. So, how does one engage learners in through interactivity in an e-learning course?

Accomplished instructional designers build in interactivity, and they can do it in a number of ways. For instance they may include:

  • Exploration in the form of links that learners can click on to explore a topic further.
  • Videos that add real-life animation to the content.
  • Reality based interactive scenarios that integrate real life examples and problems into training
  • Flip Books that can support self-paced interactive in-depth content exploration
  • Handouts that can be downloaded and printed for use during and after the training
  • Discussion Posts that can be used to build community across participants and content.
  • Interactive Games that promote hypotheses and knowledge testing in fun ways.
  • Quizzes or assessments placed at the end of a module to allow facilitators to assess effectiveness of course, and learners to gauge progress and summarize content.
  • Polls that can provide immediate feedback from the group to the individual student.
  • Collaborative Virtual Group Discussions that allow learners to discuss issues with one another, and increase the “human element” of e-learning.
  • Calls to Action that encourage learners to use the information they have learned by creating action plans, follow up reports, etc.

It is important to ensure that the videos, images, and other interactive elements included in an e-learning course should not take away from the core content. For example, an abundance of graphics on a given page may distract the learner from the content. Use only the multimedia and visual components that are relevant to course content to help highlight the major principles and engage the learner without distraction.

About Dr. Terrie Buckner

A native of Ohio, Terrie moved to Georgia in the mid-1970's. She studied Business Management at Shorter University, then earned a Master's degree in Adult Education and Occupational Studies and a doctorate in Adult Education and Human Resources and Organizational Development from The University of Georgia. Terrie's doctoral research, entitled "Engaging Moments: Adult Educators Reading and Responding to Emotion in the Classroom," was featured at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Student Research Conference in 2007. Terrie's practice has focused on workforce development in the fields of Early Care and Education and Social Services as well as the Training of Trainers and Educators who work in those fields, Instructional Design and Technology, and Human Performance Improvement. Terrie is a popular conference presenter and trainer in both fields, an approved Level III trainer, CDA, and Administration trainer in Georgia, a Certified Trainer in S.Carolina, and Certified Brain Compatible Learning trainer. She co-authored two certification programs currently in use nationwide and has authored numerous e-learning courses offered by private providers.

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