Building Interactions in eLearning

Adding interactivity to eLearning courses has been an ongoing discussion. I frequently encounter fellow learning designers who believe the more buttons we add for learners to click besides a fancy look, the more interactive a course will be. They attribute interactivity in a course to its visual appeals, pop-ups, and buttons. I personally do not dismiss the idea of making a course visually appealing, but I don’t see it the primary concern of a learning designer, and don’t think by getting the learners to click we will make our courses more interactive.

Cammy Bean has highlighted “meaningful eLearning interaction to me is not about clicking” and “you can build engaging eLearning without any interaction on screen by just stopping and asking the learner a question.” What I’d like to ask is what meaningful interaction is.

Below is what I’ve gathered from ‘Designing for Deep and Meaningful Student-to-Content Interactions’ journal by Dunlap, Sobel, and Sands.



Dunlap, J., Sobel, D., & Sands, D. (2007). Designing for Deep and Meaningful Interaction. Eric, 51 (4), 20-31.

3 thoughts on “Building Interactions in eLearning

  1. It’s interesting because you take it from the very fundamental point of view of the learning type interaction after starting from the very UX point of view. Usually I see post from the UX or recording point of view.

    UX wise, learning or not, the less choice you give, the more intense the experience. Too many options leads to dispersion. So this means what is left should be wisely hand picked.

    Recording wise it’s about the same, I learned from the xAPI study. Unless you have a controlled vocabulary to be able to compare apples with apples it makes little sense to record everything, even if you can.

    Learning wise is the real question. What are learning interactions when it’s brought at the UX level. Sophisticated gaming experiences? Forums? multiple-choice questionnaire?

    I heard so much bad opinions on multiple-choice questionnaire on twitter chats I tended to concider them evil. Still I realized while taking a final test on a MOOC tuesday I can be tricked by a simple MCQ. It’s all in the length, the progression and the way the questions are asked. My conclusion of the week is that it is still very effective and universal.

    Forums are nice but very quickly flooded with noise and very self selective. On 15000 registered students only 100 will participate to discussions.

    So what are our options to map the list of interactions types to actual eLearning ones?

    1. Hello, Bruno, and thanks for your comment! I agree with all of your points. To answer your question on which interaction type to use, I’d say it very much depends on the course, and the level of outcome expected from learners. I believe all types of them can be well mapped to an eLearning course if we closely work with the subject matter experts, and inform the learners of the effectiveness of these interactions, even discussion forums; hence, the majority of learners will participate either in class or online forums. In fact, I’m an advocate of sharing the reasons for different types of interactive activities for providing a more in-depth UX for the learners and enhancing their motivation.

    2. Bruno, couldn’t agree more with your opinion on forums. They’re often seen as an interactive element, but technically just few participants would have their say as the rest is being indifferent. To me conferences and discussions within small and closed groups are definitely more engaging and beneficial for the participants.

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