How to make online learning more interactive


E-learning programs can never succeed in engaging the attention of their e-learners in case they focus more on insignificant and irrelevant information and less on feedback from students. This article teaches how to make online learning more interactive and engaging.

Introduction

Online learning is the need of the present hour. Amidst the corona crisis in the world, it is an efficient tool to provide education to millions of students pursuing various courses from different institutes within their safe home environment. However, e-Learning has to be engaging. Otherwise, learners will soon lose interest. It will ruin the entire purpose. For this, online learning has to be interactive. Two-way interaction between teachers and learners is necessary. It will keep learners engaged. They will be able to grasp the subject more efficiently. E-learning programs have to be flexible and at the same time, convenient. Only then, the success rate of the e-learning program increases. Below-mentioned is simple ways to increase interaction in online learning.

Need for interaction in online learning

Just like in the traditional method, online learning also requires communication between teachers and students. Feedback from students will help the teachers to understand how engaging their classes were. If necessary, teachers will bring changes in their teaching methods. They will work on making their teaching more efficient for the future. Also, students will be able to clear their doubts, and share their experiences of real-life where they have put their online learnt concepts to practical use. Interaction between fellow students is necessary to create a friendly online environment. Thus, to keep students engaged, it is necessary to keep communication open in online learning programs.

What stops the e-Learning program from engaging e-learners?

E-Learning program can never engage its students and hold their attention if it is merely composed of texts, pictures or videos. In such cases, e-learners have very little power. Their power is limited to clicking the "next" button. If e-learning has to hold the attention of its learners, the study programs should focus on much more than that. Learners must have enough power to interact and remain engaged. Below-mentioned is the reasons why e-Learning programs fail to engage their learners.

  • Firstly, these programs do not enable much interaction between teachers and e-learners. Even if they do, the interaction is at a basic level and allowed occasionally.
  • When the learner's power is limited only to clicking the "next" button, content tires them. It is because they are not able to ask questions and clear their doubts.
  • They are not able to choose what they want to learn first. Chapters and units are pushed at students. Irrespective of whether students are interested in them or not, they are forced to study.
  • If it is forced at them into indigestible parts, the content becomes boring. Long boring lessons becomes intolerable, and learners soon lose interest.
  • Pushing content at students in a linear fashion into large chunks makes the content insignificant. Content gets boring if it is not relevant and necessary.
  • Only those e-Learning programs are successful who knows what their learners want from them. Thus, feedback from learners is very much required. The programs which do not pay attention to interaction or do not promote the concept can never fulfil the learning needs of students.
  • Content which is not easy to understand drains out too much energy of learners. Such content when not simplified and delivered using simple concepts can disengage learners.
  • When learners do not have enough power to participate in a case study or any such activity, they will lose interest. The content becomes the king to learners only when they find it interesting.
  • Learning abstract concepts are again demotivating to learners, and soon they lose interest. Content should be significant and relevant. When learners feel that the content they are learning is of no use in the real world and is based on facts, they find it boring and irrelevant.
  • Learning linearly without enough scope for learners to test their knowledge about the content is a complete failure. Programs which do not interact with its learners by offering them help when they do not fair well in their tests or gives them credit when they shine brightly can disengage their learners.
  • Course becomes boring for learners in case, sessions are too long. Keep the sessions short to keep them alive and engage the attention of learners. Feeding too much information in students mind in long boring classes is a complete waste of time.
  • Boring presenters and repeating him/her in every class is also not a good idea. Single study session with multiple presenters and everyone having something significant to offer holds the attention of e-learners.


Effective ways to make online learning engaging and interactive

  • Let learners pick study topics-
    The online course program is structured in chapters and units. Not all students prefer to cover the program in the same way. Some prefer to learn chapter wise. Others love to randomly pick some chapters or units. Thus, the online study program should give some liberty to learners where they can pick their chapters which interests them more. This type of freedom will keep learners engaged in e-Learning. When the students choose their study topics, it holds their attention. Below every study topic should be mentioned relevant information of different units from the same chapter. Thus, they will be able to cover the entire subject in the order which amuses them.

  • Ask for their valuable input-
    What can be more engaging than asking learners to contribute to the e-Learning program from time to time? Simple tasks such as short posts or article posting will increase their activity and keep them engaged all the time. Likewise, ask them to organize online study sessions. Students in these online learning programs can help their fellow students in various aspects. It will enrich their knowledge through revision, and also, the interaction will keep them engaged. Also, those who have passed out should be allowed to contribute resources and help their juniors in study sessions. This type of liberty will keep learners engaged.

  • Do not overdo the interaction concept-
    When there is too much of anything, it ruins everything. Earlier there was no interaction at all between learners and teachers which disengaged the learners a lot. Consequently, many e-Learning programs are using the concept of interaction, and by using, they are overdoing it. They have added interactivity to every page. Many students find it unnecessary and a distraction. Thus, interaction should be allowed only when necessary. Instead, pay the focus on making concepts interesting. Too much interaction on every page level may disrupt the flow of information. This kind of disruption can only cause distraction.

  • Social ways leave scope for interaction-
    Online learning only becomes successful when there is an interaction between teachers and students. To keep learners engaged in study sessions and allow interaction, asking for feedback from them is an important step. When students leave feedback, teachers may understand how effective the topic or unit was. They can take the necessary steps to make teaching more efficient and engaging for future classes.

  • Adopt gamification technique-
    Gamification makes learning a fun process. It holds the attention of students, and at the same time keeps them engaged while challenging them from time to time. Gamification concept helps learners as well as the online program conducting organizations in many ways. The gamified online course is found to be more interesting and motivating than any other online course that is based on the traditional teaching method.

  • Encourage assessment-
    Many e-Learning programs conduct tests and encourage self-assessment. However, along with that reviewing co-students work, test papers also creates a friendly environment and leaves scope for interaction. Students can form study groups and work together on different projects. Let them join chat rooms and discussion boards. When fellow students socially interact while reviewing works or help each other in study sessions and clear each other's doubts, a sharing environment gets created online. It puts them at ease and keeps them busy and indulged in e-Learning.

  • The content design has to be impressive-
    If the content is impressively present to students, it will be easier to grasp, recall and will be interesting. Boring content in a linear fashion, cluttered material can never attract or engage its learners. Thus, the content should be well presented. Wherever necessary, the content programmers should try to incorporate easy learning videos and images. However, one thing that needs to be taken care of that images and instructional video should help learners and not distract them. Thus, they should be important and relevant. Also, do not load pages with too many questions and irrelevant facts. Simple, easy to understand and relevant information on pages attract its learners and keep them engaged.

  • Use a combination of the two teaching methods-
    Certain e-Learning programs adopt asynchronous learning, where students learn at their own pace. Others offer synchronous learning wherein students have to engage in online learning classes. Both of these teaching methods are effective. To make learning program more interesting, using a blend of both these methods in the study sessions will surprise students and keep them engaged. A few chapters of synchronous learning and a few of asynchronous learning will hold their attention. Live study sessions are a great way that promotes bonding between learners and teachers.


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