Personalization is one of the hottest topics in corporate training. But learning delivery remains largely top-down, with little thought to a learner’s personal style nor alignment to their individual objectives.
Levels of interactivity in learning content are generally not as high as they should be for effective learning, even though modern browsers and new web and mobile technologies offer more potential to create interactive experiences than ever before. As a result, organizations are not getting the optimal outcomes and skills development from their training spend. If you’re not seeing high levels of learner engagement, skills transfer or business impact the first step toward a solution may be to improve the interactivity of your training and learning experiences.
The challenge for most learning leaders is to understand how to deliver more engaging, interactive learning that works. Despite the prevalence of interactive content development tools, many digital learning modules are still repurposed PowerPoint content. But slides that trainers create to deliver classroom learning were never intended to serve as self-paced, stand-alone learning content. They were designed to supplement expert, face-to-face training delivery.
The Benefits of Interactivity
Some digital learning designers have attempted to make e-learning delivery replicate classroom interactivity by, for example, hiding elements and then revealing them as the learner progresses through the module. But this does not go anywhere near far enough to create native, interactive content. Just because a learner clicks frequently does not necessarily mean learning content is engaging. The learner may be trying to speed through the course to reach completion.
There are several reasons why learning interactivity is desirable. The stories and examples contained in the lessons are an integral part of the overall engagement with the learning. These stories create a situation where the learner feels directly and emotionally involved with the content, which can improve retention.
Interactivity motivates learners to stay involved in the learning. Therefore, they are less likely to abandon the course before they master the relevant skill. The opportunity to experience situations like those learners would encounter during their daily work, yet in a low risk learning environment, provide a chance for the learner to react differently to challenging situations. When learners can think about the learning situation in the future, and the potential paths and outcomes, it’s easier and more likely that they will integrate the lessons into their normal workflow.
Tips to Improve Interactivity
If learners feel training content is highly relevant to them, they are more likely to benefit from it. Here are a few tips learning leaders can use to make learning experiences more interactive and engaging:
- Avoid dumping a lot of information at once. Rather than drowning learners with a fire hose of information, enable them to access just the right amount of training as they need it. Today, delivering e-learning to mobile devices is the norm, and given learners’ attention spans are shorter than ever, it works best to chunk learning delivery into smaller nuggets; allow learners to access bite-size modules on the go.
- Use technology wisely. You don’t need to tap into every cool new technology trend to engage learners. Use the power of traditional storytelling, facilitating the integration of knowledge by using metaphors, case studies, testimonials and real examples. The key is to design learning content to prioritize interactivity and engagement from the start.
- Deliver learning at the point of need. Sometimes formal instruction is required, but often training on-the-job or performance support is a better approach.
- Make learning social and fun. Learners today have a lot of distractions competing for their attention. Interactivity can add to the fun and excitement, which has a positive impact on learner motivation, reflection, engagement and knowledge retention.
Interactive learning provides opportunities for the learner to see content from different perspectives, and offers examples and opportunities to apply and test their understanding. Learning occurs faster with greater interactivity because learners use higher order thinking skills such as appraising, interpreting and summarizing information rather than merely labelling, memorizing or describing it.
It is not enough to upgrade learning delivery with sophisticated interactivity and then roll it out globally. Tailored, localised content is key. At the same time, it is important not to forget that engagement goes beyond content. It is about the full learning experience, and that needs to be seamless, relevant, convenient and effective.
Learning and development leaders should invest the effort to ensure engagement and interactivity. They will be rewarded with more motivated learners, higher levels of learner satisfaction, better learning outcomes, and more alignment with overall organizational objectives.
Patricia Santos is e-learning manager for Cegos. Comment below or email editor@CLOmedia.com.