I wanted to introduce the concept of interactivity to teachers who may already have a collection of learning resources, but are looking to take them a step further. One of the main reasons teachers or developers decide to create interactive learning resources is to increase student engagement. They are also useful for providing alternatives to large amounts of textual/ video information. Aside from adding fun into the learning experience, interactive resources can help to increase a learner’s attention span and retention of a subject.
What do we mean by interactive learning resources?
There are many definitions for this term, but in this post we will define interactive learning resources as the combination of media (text, images, audio, pictures or video) with online tools to create interactive content, which students must engage with as part of their learning.
Some of these examples include, but are not limited to:
A good way of setting the scene and getting students to understand a particular scenario or environment is to use an interactive image. For example, you could use an image of an office, a ward, a construction site, etc. and add hotspots (containing text, images or videos) to bring the scenario to life. These types of images allow students to immerse themselves in a particular environment, which helps them understand the context of a situation. Thus, interactive images can be a useful tool for situated learning.
It can also be difficult to explain a complex diagram or map through the use of text/ video alone. One way to resolve this could be by using an interactive image, encouraging learners to construct their own knowledge by exploring different parts of the image and learning at their own pace.
Some of the tools you could use to create these images are:
- Interactive Img
You may have asked your students to read a policy or document containing various key terms/ definitions, or statistics/ key dates. Flashcards can be a useful tool to refresh a student’s knowledge of this type of information.
Studies relating to cognitive load theory have shown an average person can only hold seven pieces of information at one time. Flashcards are a great way of helping students process key information from their working memory into their long-term memory. You could even ask students to work in groups to create the flashcards. This will encourage students to be an active participant in their own learning,
Some of the tools you could use to create flashcards are:
Interactive timelines are useful for those teaching history or politics, to demonstrate something in chronological order. Similarly, they can show a journey of a particular client/ company, or even a step-by-step process in the more practical subjects.
Interactive timelines allow the linking of relevant resources (articles, videos, images) to specified points. This allows student to see an overall picture as to how their learning resources are linked and organised together.
Some of the tools you can use to create interactive timelines are:
Interactive Case Studies/ Workbooks
If your course is practical or business centered, you may have a lot of case studies within your materials. You can add an element of interactivity to these case studies by combining a variety of different media such as text, images, video, audio and quizzing together to tell the story of a company, client/ customer profile, or a patient, etc.
Students find interactive case studies or interactive workbooks more enjoyable than reading a passage of text or watching a video. In my experiences of working with interactive case studies/ workbooks, students were shown to have developed a higher contextual understanding of individual and social factors in their assessments than previous years.
You can use H5P, Microsoft Sway or Padlet to create interactive case studies. Alternative interactive tools for a live experience include Kahoot, Vevox or Mentimeter, which can be embedded into a PowerPoint.
There are a variety of survey or quizzing tools you could use within a live video call or your LMS. However, one thing you may not have considered is embedding quizzing within your pre-recorded video resources. Adding open response questions in the middle of a video allow you to capture a snapshot of what your students are thinking. Similarly, adding multiple choice questions can be a great way of checking your students’ understanding and engagement with the video.
Quizzing tools are included in many video editing programmes such as Camtasia, Kaltura, or Panopto.
Branching scenarios are a great way of teaching learners about actions and consequences by providing instantaneous feedback. They can be designed to teach positive/ negative decision making or as a role playing exercise. Or to simulate person-to-person or person-to-object interactions. As they are student-led and directed, they empower students to learn at their own pace. This gives students the opportunity to revisit branches/ scenarios if they have gaps in their knowledge.
Branching scenarios can incorporate an array of content such as text, images, video or quizzing. They can also be delivered in a live environment with the use of live polling tools.
You can use some of the following tools to create branching scenarios:
- Articulate Storyline/ Rise
- Yo Scenario
Planning your Interactive Resources
However, before you decide to create interactive resources, first consider:
- Whether there is a necessity for the resource. – Will it get used by students, and for what purpose? – What does it help the learners to achieve?
- Does it fit into existing resources you have already created? Can you adapt existing materials to add an element of interactivity? Or will you need to create new materials?
- Can you make the resource accessible? – Can you provide subtitles, alternative formats, etc.
- Is the content which you plan to use for your resource copyright free?
The Five W’s
Finally, to ensure your newly developed interactive resources will be used effectively, it’s always important to ensure the following five W’s are clear to the learner:
- Who is the resource designed for? Is the resource mandatory or supplemental? Should learners use it alone or with their peers?
- What do you expect the learners to do with the resource? If you ask the students to watch an interactive video, are you expecting them to discuss the questions and the video in class, or will they be tested on the content of the video?
- Where can students find the interactive resource? A clearly structured/ labelled learning environment can assist with this.
- When do you expect learners to interact with the resource by? This is particularly important if you are adopting a flipped classroom approach and you are expecting the learner to have interacted with a resource prior to a synchronous session.
- Why are the students interacting with this resource? – What skills or knowledge can they obtain from the resource? In the case of interactive videos or branching scenarios, you can factor in how the learning applies to real-life contexts.
*H5P is a free tool allowing you to create various types of interactive learning content, which you can publish through your LMS or wordpress website.