Give Meaning to Your eLearning Click to Reveal Interactions

I have a special ability that I would like to share with you: I can see into your training past.  Think back to the last compliance eLearning that you took.  You started to go through the training, and you got to a slide… don’t tell me, I see it… the slide asked you to click on something and a text box pops up.  You didn’t read the text box; you just click on the next one thinking that you needed to click on all of them, so you get credit for the course.  You technically finished the course but had no idea what was on those text boxes.  

Remarkable ability, isn’t it?  Well to be honest, I can’t actually see your training past. I just know that we’ve all had the experience above.  We’ve all seen this  interaction, and let’s be honest, we’ve all made these interactions as well.  Click to reveal text is simply the easiest and quickest way to present information on screen while offering some type of learner interaction.  That said, is it the most effective way to teach our learners?

When we use simple click to reveal interactions, we’re presenting the information in a way that is easily forgotten.  As learning has moved more to asynchronous, we as learners have started to find ways to move through eLearning at a quicker pace, because that is what we feel the business would want.  This means that as we see a click to reveal text interaction, our worst impulse is to click all the boxes and move to the next screen.  We may skim the text in the boxes, or we may even glance past it entirely to see if the next button has highlighted yet.  If we as Instructional Designers are not cognizant of this, we’re at risk of creating what I think of as “Check the Box” training, i.e., training that is not meant to teach but to be listed on a transcript in the event of legal/disciplinary action.   

So how do we make these click to reveal text interactions more interesting?  We give them a REASON to click. The best way to do this is to give our learners the opportunity to think critically or to oversee their own learning journey in a meaningful way.  There are many ways to do this, such as using audio and video, crafting scenarios, or adding gamification elements to the course.  All of these are, in essence, click to reveal interactions, however we are giving the learners agency over the content and hopefully giving their minds something to grab onto. 

Change the Media 

The first (and easiest) way to enhance a click to reveal text activity is to change the media that is displayed when the hotspot is clicked.  Audio and video are instant upgrades to static text.  Giving the text a voice, or better yet a face in a video, encourages your learners to pay attention to the content since it’s less passive.  A word of warning here though: keep these A/V files to less than 2 minutes long.  Most people are conditioned by social media to short video clips, so if you can emulate those, you’re tapping into something that most people do already.  This is also the easiest way to upgrade an existing click to reveal text interaction.  Take the text that’s there, rewrite it as spoken audio (bonus points if it’s a story or contextualized for the learner) then trim the onscreen text to only the essential points.  To add another layer, you can have the narrator appear onscreen while the audio is playing, giving a face to the text.  Go one step further and have a SME record a video speaking to the subject, either in testimonial style, or through another type of video such as a white board video or animated short.  All these options are more effective than just a traditional click to reveal text interaction. 

Create Scenarios and Tell Stories 

This option requires more planning, as you must craft the characters and the story that fits the information.  Your characters should match your learners and the people they will be interacting with, and the scenarios should directly mirror their job responsibilities.  This will help the content stick in your learners’ minds.  Give the learners multiple options for solving problems presented in scenarios and craft the feedback so it’s specific to the answer the learner selected.  This takes more time to design and develop, but it lets the learner work through problems the same way they would when they are performing their job duties.  This is still a click focused interaction, but they’re trying to solve a problem, so you are giving the learner a reason to click and control over their learning journey.  The approach is to make your learners curious about what will happen next.  Neuroscience tells us that people are “more likely to remember the answer to a question they were curious about.” (Collins, 74)  If this method speaks to you, please refer to my previous blog for more information. 

Use Value Added Gamification 

Karl Kapp, the well-known expert in Gamification, defines it as “using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.”  This means including elements like tracking a point total, or providing avatars for the learners to select as virtual representations of themselves, etc. These elements help learners become more engaged with the training, which is our goal.  Humans, generally, are more inclined to pay attention and try harder if a score is being tracked, or if there is some type of competition.  Use this to your advantage! One idea is to create an antagonist to your learner and have them “participate” in the eLearning at the same time as your learner. Add a timer.  They get questions and scenarios right and wrong as the learner progresses, and the learner can compare their progress to the fictional antagonist.  Even better–if you make this antagonist a caricature of some type (overly eager, Type A personality, etc.), the learner will be more inclined to “beat” the antagonist and will try harder to retain the information provided in the course. 

Each of these interactions can replace the typical click to reveal text interaction, which means that you can have more than one of these in your course and they can all work together.  Tell a story about your antagonist and track your scores so your learner can “beat” them and craft scenarios where your learner can put what they learned from the earlier video they watched into practice.  Mix and match these along with other interactions to make a quality learning experience for your learners.   

The key is to present the content in a way that sticks in the learners’ minds. Gamification has become a HUGE buzz word in the industry – for good reason! But it’s also become a catch all. Be mindful that the game is ADDING VALUE and not just taking up learner time. Before deciding to do a game, think about your audience demographics and the topic you’re covering to see if it’s appropriate.  

Balance Time and Budget  

Adding these things to eLearning may take a mindset shift for some clients. I mean, they have been sitting through click to reveals for years. These ideas will have to be “sold”. In addition to this, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention costs. Video production and gamification can take longer to develop which usually translates to more time and money. Have a conversation with your sales teams and your clients about interactivity levels and options in eLearning. You may end up with some combination of interactivity: simple click to reveal interactions for the most basic content and really cool elements for the content you want to be memorable.  

So, take it from me, the Ghost of Training Past, we can and should do better than simple click to reveal text interactions.  I know they are tempting and easy to make, but we can do better, our learners deserve better.   

 

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