Why Interactive Training Increases Learner Engagement
January 7, 2021
What is Interactive Training?
Interactive Training is not a new topic, but it has come more to the forefront recently as other trends such as Micro-Learning and Gamification have become more popular and demands are increasing to provide more benefits (such as increased ROI, higher grades) in less time.
Making a training interactive can come in many forms, but it usually refers to adding elements into the training that require or encourage the learner to do something in order to progress further into the training. Perhaps they need to answer some questions, click on a specific part of a webpage or drag and drop items to solve a puzzle. All of these items require the learner to interact with the training to accomplish something.
Why is Interactivity Important?
When creating training, the goal is usually to design it to best accomplish the desired outcome of that training. Interactive training can help increase a learner’s engagement (involvement or commitment) with the material and help them become more invested in the end result, which helps the learner, the training designer and the increases the quality of the training outcome.
How can Interactive Training Increase Engagement?
Requiring or encouraging the learner to follow steps, click through items, answer questions or repeat demonstrated processes with well-designed feedback helps them to better engage with the content, which provides a lot of benefits to them and to the place where that training ultimately applies in their work.
When interactive elements are added in a smart way, it can help learners better understand the training and apply it to the desired outcome of the training, whether that’s learning to do their job better, understanding topics for school or picking up a new skill.
The key is trying to figure out what interactive elements will work best for your training and determining where and how many elements should be added.
According to eLearning Industry, there are 4 levels of interactivity in eLearning (some of which can also be applied to Live Training): Passive, Limited, Moderate and Full.
- Passive – Doesn’t have any interactivity
- Limited – Basic interactions may be present such as clicking on hotspots or typing in answers to quiz questions.
- Moderate – A fair amount of the Learning contains interactive elements that have more depth such as re-creating situations, solving puzzles and altering media elements.
- Full – The course has a large amount and variety of interactivity to keep learners constantly doing something. Branched scripting based on answers may appear in this section, as well as deeply interactive audio, video and textual elements.
The deeper the level of interactivity, the more the learner has to engage with the training in order to complete it, which will hopefully lead to better retention and application.
It’s important to consider how much interactivity a training should have. More doesn’t always equal better, depending on the type of training and your audience. You may want to add more interactive elements when creating training for a skilled trade than you would when teaching someone how to bake a cake, but both scenarios might benefit from interaction.
Benefits of Interactivity in Training
There are many benefits to adding interactivity to your training, but here are the 7 reasons we at Positive Results™ believe really encapsulate why interactive training has now become essential to driving engagement from your audience.
- Increases Involvement
- Tailors Approach to Individual Learners
- Helps Younger Learners
- Provides Immediate Feedback
- Improves Retention
- Builds Community
- Stimulates Growth
When someone feels like they have a stake in something, they are more likely to get involved. Whether they’re needing to replicate a task in an eLearning module or being asked to participate in a seminar discussion during a Live Training, if you ask for a learner to interact with the training in some way and provide feedback on their contributions, it’s likely they will start to care more about it.
The increased level of involvement this generates can also open up the door for you to ask more of your learners and empower them to take a more active role in the training with lower risks of burnout or disinterest. This also increases the likelihood of your learners providing useful feedback about the training itself.
Tailors Approach to Individual Learners
Providing interactive elements where users have a choice that leads to different outcomes provides something for them to care about. Using a technique called “Branching,” training designers can construct multiple paths/scenarios for a user to follow depending on their answers to previous questions or situations. These paths can be more tailored to their style based on answering questions or interacting with elements in a certain way earlier in the course.
This type of learning also increases engagement because it makes the content more relevant to who is taking it rather than a one-size-fits-all solution that’s likely to miss the mark with many individual learners. This can particularly help users with learning disabilities or those that may struggle in a particular area that is covered in your training.
Another example of branching is through helping localize the content for learners if the training is being used worldwide. You may ask a question early in the training about where the person is from and then add elements of that place (such as verbiage, colors, or landmarks) to the training to help the learner better relate to the material.
Helps Younger Learners
Younger users really appreciate positive feedback about how they handle situations, so being able to provide interactive elements to help them understand what is expected of them followed by feedback about their choices will help people to want to keep going.
Younger learners are also able to pick up new ideas and situations quickly compared to adult learners in some cases, which makes it important to provide well thought out interactive elements so that you’re reinforcing the desired behaviors in the training. By creating something both fun and educational (called “Edutainment”) you’re more likely to have children and young adults stay interested in the material and apply it successfully.
Provides Immediate Feedback
Training is all about teaching someone the skills to accomplish something. If there are ways to replicate the very thing you're trying to teach in the training through interactive elements, this helps the user to apply the skills that are getting thrown at them in a realistic scenario.
For example, if a manufacturing company wants to create training to help their administrative staff understand all the steps required to use their new CRM application, a great way to provide that training would be to add a mocked up version of the CRM inside the training, using interactive elements for someone to click on that mimic the real experience of using that CRM. As the users navigates through the training, they are actually learning how to do their job, which can then be immediately applied when they are asked to use the real application.
The more one has to interact with something, the more memory and connection builds between the learner and that thing. By adding interactive elements into your training, you can provide a learner with an environment where they need to spend more time fully exploring the training rather than passively watching or glancing at their phone.
Finding the right balance between smart interaction and forced interaction is important here, because people don’t want to feel like they’re being needlessly asked to do inconsequential tasks just to complete the training. Instead, give them the opportunity to do things that mimic their real work conditions (if possible) or allow them to interact when it makes sense to do so (choosing a path, learning a skill, getting more information about a technique, etc).
Sometimes taking an eLearning course can feel very lonely. You may be sitting in an empty room or cubicle, cut off from the rest of your office in order to focus on a new departmental training course. But what if there was some way to stay connected to others while doing the training?
Adding interactive elements such as infographics, quotes or videos that appear based on user choices and show what other learners chose can help the learners stay involved because they feel like a part of the community.
Additionally, providing opportunities to offer their feedback on the training during or after the training through additional interactive elements can also spur people to care about the course and the desired outcomes it’s hoping to achieve.
For example, adding feedback to relevant sections asking questions such as “what did you like/dislike about this section?” or “How would you rate the value of the information delivered during this section?” can assist training designers with creating better learning, but also provide an outlet for those taking the learning to feel like their needs are being listened to. Not everyone will take that opportunity to further engage, but for the ones that are interested it allows them to have a voice, which is very important.
When someone watches a training passively, without ever being required to participate, they may forget almost everything shown to them. By adding interactive elements into your training, you’re requiring them to know and understand at least some level of the content, providing an opportunity for them to learn and grow.
Making sure the interactive elements are fun, useful and intelligently designed to increase the odds of learner growth can be tricky, but when done well can aid them in not only understanding the training, but the deeper applications of that training in their job.
We recommend taking some time to think about how interactive training might help your business by answering the following questions.
- What would creating interactive training do for our business?
- Is high engagement from our training audience important to us? Why?
- What kind of training (existing or future) would benefit most from interactivity?
- What types of interactive elements would work best for those training courses?
- How can we best add interactivity into our training?
Many people learn by doing, rather than being shown. They need to feel like they’re being given a chance to perform the actions they’re being told are expected of them. Great training provides opportunities for learners to do just that through strong, well thought out interactive elements.
Finding the right balance between too few and too many interactions, as well as what types of interactions make sense based on the type of training you are creating is very important to consider. There is no umbrella answer that fits all situations, it is often very training-specific and learner-specific. But adding interactivity can lead to higher engagement, and higher engagement helps improve earnings.
Creating interactive training has so many more benefits than what we’ve shown and it’s a powerful tool in the hands of any instructional designer. As with designing any learning element, it’s important to consider the impact it will have on the training, the learner and the end result that the training is to be applied to.
Positive Results can help you design and develop your next eLearning or ILT course with improved Learner Engagement to maximize learner involvement and retention of the processes you teach.
If you have questions or comments, please contact us at the information below.
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions