Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Building Effective Interactivity In E-Learning---The Key to Engagement--Part I

If E-Learning is to be truly an effective tool to creating a more dynamic learning culture both in the education sector and the business sectors then creating irresistibly engaging learning experiences are vital. This means such learning experiences must truly be interactive in nature.

The Problem of Interactivity in the Past

The way that interactivity was created in the past was predicated on the idea that through constant repetition of response to a stimulus that learners would be conditioned to respond the same way. This was controlled through the use of "carrot vs. the stick" approach to reinforcement. 

Credit: www.gettyimages,com
This method of "Operant Conditioning" found its way into the design of interactive training and E-Learning. The problem with designing this into the learning regimen of business organizations and education today is that it runs counter to the very skillsets that are needed in order to promote innovation and especially, divergent thinking that is required to solve complex real world problems.

This type of creative thinking demonstrated in the above image would never be tolerated then and would in fact be punished. The type of conditioning that is in place shows up in programs where the only real thought is to push the right menu button, then read the content, then push the continue button, read the content and then answer a quiz which is then graded. If you fail the quiz then you are re-directed to re-training where again repetition is the key. This type of "learning" treats the recipient as a passive receptacle that can only learn by the administration of reward and punishment.

"It ignores the very important understandings that all learners are thinking, creative, intuitive and resourceful individuals who do seek to learn but it must be learning that respects them and capitalizes on their gifts and talents. They want to be mentored in order to stretch and grow their abilities but first and foremost, you have to get their attention and hold it. Negative artificial extrinsic motivators are not conducive to developing what is needed in a digital economy."

We need to break free from the "command and control" mindset because it is a product of a dated industrial economy. 

Laying the Foundation for Effective Interactivity Using E-Learning

If engagement is what is required then interactivity needs to be designed that respects the skillsets that nurture collaboration with other learners in real world problem solving where divergent thinking in combination with active critical thinking become the de facto way of approaching learning.

Here is a thought to consider:

"If you are using the type of "Operant Conditioning" described at the beginning of this post that requires the mechanisms described, then perhaps the required task for learning in such a technological age that we are in, might be better done by robots or other intelligent machines rather than human learners! This is not meant to suggest that people should lose their jobs but it is meant to suggest that we need to make better use of the awesome human capital we have available to us."

If you really want to get a clear picture of how much this "command and control" approach is an affront to human ability, Google the following :"The Stanley Milgram Experiment" and then ask yourself whether or not your organizational training culture has similar elements.
Next--- a better model for building interactivity in E-Learning.

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