E-Learning Interaction Types

While creating a quality checklist for our e-learning courses, we recently had a discussion about the types and frequency of interactivity we use.  We thought you might be interested in our discussion on what constitutes an interaction.

We like to separate interactions out into two forms, each with their own set of purposes.

Screen Interaction

A screen interaction is a way to present information where the student interacts with the slide to get the information. It’s interactive in that the student has to click to get things, but they don’t have to know anything about the material, and it’s not letting them apply, check, or reinforce their knowledge like a question or an activity might.

Why use screen interactions?  There are two main reasons.  One, it can be a useful way to organize content.  For example, if you are making six points, each with an explanation, a click-to-reveal type layout helps keep the information clear and organized for the student.  It also helps keep the screen from being cluttered and possibly overwhelming to the student.  Two, like Tom Hanks in the limo in the movie Big, people like to click on stuff!  Yes, we admit it.  Sometimes we add features because they make the course a little more enjoyable (as long as it doesn’t distract from the learning).

In this example, students hover their mouse over each icon to reveal content. The information is organized and easy for the student to process.


So screen interactions let you organize and present your content in an interesting way. But don’t kid yourself.  If the only type of interaction you have is screen interactions, then you still have only passive learning.  To get the students’ minds to interact (instead of just their mouse fingers), you also need knowledge interactions.

Knowledge Interaction

A knowledge interaction is a question, scenario, or other activity where the student is testing, exploring, or applying the knowledge they have gained from the course.  Usually they get feedback on their application of the knowledge.

In this example, students choose the correct or incorrect response. Based on the choice, the student receives detailed feedback that reinforces the content.



Frequency of Use

It’s hard to say how many interactions to use in your course.  Your content really needs to drive that. Perhaps you can give yourself a reality check every so often. For example, if you don’t have some sort of interaction in a certain window of time (say five slides), ask yourself, “Why not?”  Then you can go back through the content and see if maybe there is a way to get the student more involved in the learning.  Using this kind of planned reality check can keep you focused on whether or not you are making your courses truly interactive without locking yourself into rules that might not be appropriate.

Nick Elkins

4 Responses to “E-Learning Interaction Types

  • Sue Raffensperger
    7 years ago

    Really, really good post, Nick. I especially like how you guided the reader to plan on having an interaction in a certain window of time. The scenario-driven knowledge interactions are so effective, especially when created within actual, realistic circumstances. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  • mulugeta
    7 years ago

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