E-learning also offers interactivity. This type of interactivity can be in the form of simply clicking on appropriate responses to questions, clicking to animate an object or start a process, or dragging and dropping items to practice a skill.
Interactive games based on the training message are also very effective at improving learning. Now, you may be thinking of "Doom" or "Tomb Raider," but gaming in a training setting doesn't have to be quite that elaborate -- although it certainly can be!
Think about games where you go through a series of tasks, learning about the environment, and use tools you've discovered along the way. Those same techniques can be incorporated into many types of learning programs. Games can take you through an adventure in almost any type of scenario. Being able to explore, try, succeed or fail makes good training.
For example, you may be a human resources manager taking an e-course on hiring techniques. The course might include a series of video and audio segments that take you through the processes. Then a game would begin that takes you through those same processes where you make the decisions in a virtual world. Suppose in the interviewing section you asked a question that's not allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bells might go off and a simulated team of attorneys might whisk you off to a virtual jail! When you do rather than simply read or listen to something, you retain more of the information, and learning from mistakes is one of the best ways to ensure you don't make those mistakes again. Think of it as cyber role playing.
This type of game scenario could be easily created in Trainersoft by using photos or graphics, and applying hot spots that link to video clips. Once the video clip has played, a multiple-choice quiz box could pop up that asks the user what he should do next. The options for answers could be linked to individual video clips that play out that scenario. Once the scene has played, the results of the choice (i.e. whether it was the right decision or the wrong decision) could then be revealed as either a talking head video, an audio response or simply a text box. This scene could be as simple or as intricate as you want to make it.
Being motivated to learn is half the battle. Knowing the course you're taking is going to have some "fun" elements like video, audio, animation and the "gaming" scenarios we mentioned above creates more interest and curiosity in learning. This, too, leads to better retention and faster learning.
Other motivating factors with e-learning are the conveniences that it offers, such as being able to go through the course any time and anywhere (almost). It's much easier to work training into a busy schedule when you don't have to take two days off to travel and then sit in a classroom.
Other e-learning elements that beat out the classroom scene
Besides the bigger issues like interaction, control of the pace, and motivation, e-learning can readily put to use the information that researchers have been studying for the past 30 or more years. These studies have identified things that can greatly affect memory and recall. Some of the key research found significant improvements in recall when:
- using colors and specific color combinations
- combining images with words
- combining sounds (or voice or music) with images
- using multiple types of media
- using layouts that flow with the natural movement of the eye
On the next page, we'll talk more about the benefits of e-learning.