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Interactive Online Learning: Meaning, Principles, Examples

Interactive Online Learning: Meaning, Principles, Examples

In educational technology, the term ‘interactive' refers to responsive content that fosters active learning. This type of content understands what you need when you need it, and how to fetch it for you. If you want to know more about what interactive online reading is, keep reading.

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Interactive Online Learning: Meaning, Principles, Examples

Interactive online learning entails going beyond the passive one-way nodes of reading, listening, and watching static content. It includes pulling out the exact content you want and manipulating it rather than just waiting for information and digesting it. Having said that, it’s important to understand these four concepts to grasp what interactive online learning is all about.

Not Interactive: This is the type of content that’s unresponsive. Keep in mind that clicking the ‘next’ button to move on to the next slide is not interactive, simply because a button is not content. It’s no different from pressing a TV remote or turning pages of a book. If the slides fail to sense  the needs of the viewers and address them, the content is deemed ‘not interactive’.

Reactive: This type of content includes pre-set programmed objects, such as hyperlinks on images and multiple-choice questions. Navigation includes conditional branches, which loop back to their starting points on a linear path. This type of content promotes prescriptive rather than active learning. Learners have some control over the learning process, but they can only do what the content expects them to do.

Interactive: This type of content responds to both your explicit queries as well as your implied needs, staying genuinely interactive. Examples of such content include video games, high-fidelity simulations, immersive tutorials, problem sets, and so on. Why are these types of content interactive? The variables they synthesize are based on learners’ behavior at every stage and respond accordingly.

Interactive Plus: This is the top tier content that facilitates interaction between groups, while also promoting active learning. It might include multiplayer online games and training simulations and synchronous distance learning. What makes these ‘interactive plus’ is that the variables set by one person’s autonomous behavior impact others. The application senses the individual behaviors of all learners simultaneously and responds analytically.

Both Interactive and Interactive Plus content promote experiential learning and are similar to learning in real social ecologies or situations. The problem is that many of us associate interaction with ‘Non-Interactive’ or ‘Reactive’ content, labeling anything that involves mouse clicks as ‘Interactive’. That’s a faulty paradigm.

Thus, in short, interactive online learning promotes engagement and active learning, which is seen in ‘Interactive’ and ‘Interactive Plus’ content.

Interactive Online Learning

Principles of Interactive Online Learning

Interactive online learning doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a result of a systematic, planned development process. Before creating an eLearning course, an expert also needs to be aware of the principles of online learning. There are certain patterns in which people process information.

Each principle of interactive online learning should align with a type of communication or activity that facilitates the process of eLearning. This way, chances for learners to interact should be higher and they should be more likely to retain the information and skills they obtain.

We’ll now take a look at some critical principles that will help you structure a training session that provides the best possible learning experience to your learners.

Set the Stage for Effective Learning

Try to engage the learner from the very beginning by taking a strong start and setting the stage for an amazing learning experience. To disengage the learner from all other tasks and divert their full attention to your course, open your eLearning module with an interesting activity or introduction. Some great strategies to capture learners’ attention at the start of the course include:

  • Asking a thought-provoking or a short survey question

  • Sharing an unpredicted, insightful, statistic or fact

  • Using an activity that engages learners in the learning process

  • Using a fascinating introductory video clip

Communicate Learning Objectives Upfront

Stating objectives clarifies to the learners ‘What’s in it for me?’ Not only does this set expectations for your learners for what lies ahead but also conveys the value the course offers. You can simply list the objectives in a slide. Ideally, you should also state the expected performance standard, the required performance, and what a successful outcome would look like.

Link the Content with Learners’ Existing Skills or Knowledge

Helping your learners recall prior learning gives them a sense of confidence as they approach new material. The best way to stimulate this recall is to conduct a test to check how much they remember. Alternatively, you can simply add a summary of the concepts or knowledge they have learned until now.

eLearning applications typically come with useful knowledge check tools, allowing you to create different types of test questions including MCQs, matching, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.

Utilize Visuals and Structure the Content Well

When delivering new information, knowledge, and skills to your learners, leverage images, graphics, tables, and graphs instead of relying on text. This should help learners visualize and properly understand each concept. To make sure that the information doesn’t overwhelm the learners, organize and sequence your content in a reasonable way that facilitates information absorption.

Using a training video or video course is an incredible way to do this. You may also choose to create a slide-based course. The best eLearning programs allow you to build or create any of these.

Online Learning

Use Tools that Facilitate Learning

Learning content is one thing, but there are various ways to support the learners on how they can learn and develop skills. This can be as simple as providing useful hints or tips, offering advice on content learning, guiding them through available learning resources, and giving real-life examples.

Other supportive objects that can assist in learning include concept maps, infographics, case studies, job aids, etc., that can be included in the eLearning program.

Put the Acquired Knowledge to Use

When you know that a learner can demonstrate the knowledge or skills they’ve acquired from the training content, it’s time to be practical. While the entire course should be interactive, this is where the learners will be engaged the most. The interactive elements you use at this stage should require them to apply their acquired knowledge or skills.

Among the most effective ways is to use dialog simulation through a realistic work-related scenario, in which the outcomes vary depending on the learner’s response to each question.

Provide Immediate Feedback

After a learner applies their knowledge or skills, provide feedback spontaneously. If the learner performed well, sharing a positive comment should reinforce the right things they’re doing. For any skill or knowledge errors, sharing constructive, helpful advice should help learners identify what exactly they did wrong.

Set a suitable comment for every answer the learners might choose in the dialog simulation, for instance. To point out a mistake the learner made as well as to explain the correct course of action, or even praise them for doing the right thing, you can even create information scenes that will prove more appealing for them.

Conduct Assessments

Once the learners have gone through all content of an online course, assess them through comprehensive quizzes or tests. Interactive online learning programs offer highly customizable testing solutions, such as exciting drag-and-drop questions, cause-outcome matching, and more.

Hence, depending on the nature of your business, you get different types of questions to choose from.

Facilitate Knowledge Retention and Transfer

Finally, there has to be some way to improve knowledge retention and transfer. What you can do is share valuable resources such as instruction manuals, catalogs, working guides, etc., that the learners can refer to at any time to recall things they’ve learned. The top online learning solutions can even help make the reference materials highly interactive.

To obtain a better idea about how these principles can be applied to online learning, study the following examples:

Examples of Interactive Online Learning


The power of stories is tremendous, and you can recall every single detail of it. That’s why stories have become an incredible tool in eLearning solutions. From start to finish, deliver your content in a story-like manner, where the characters are relevant to the industry and learners. Consider incorporating appropriate dialogs and the right morals. Here are some examples of story-based eLearning modules:

Character Dialog: This is an interesting interaction that unfolds your story through a conversation between illustrated objects or characters.

3D eBook: Unlike a traditional eBook that only includes text to narrate a story, this 3D eBook makes use of images, videos, and text to make the story-based content more interactive for learners.

Simulations and Scenarios

These include activities designed to take learners to real-life, virtual situations without requiring them to face them or their consequences in reality.  Examples of these include:

Role-Based Individualized Simulation: This type of simulation puts the learner in specific situations and requires them to act as a decision-maker or a problem solver. As they go about reacting to each situation, you make sure they’re aware of the complicated aspects of each question using instructive feedback.

Goal-Driven Immersive Learning Situation: This serves as a scenario template that gives the learners an interactive tour of the process, a real-life scenario, or a concept using hotspots. The solution empowers the learners to choose their learning path and again, instructive feedback can be given for the choices they make to reinforce the learning objectives.

Museum Simulation: This interaction involves giving the learners a 3D walk-through of a virtual museum that contains up to 4 sections that may feature videos and images.


Games add an element of fun, which is an effective driver for human beings. Given that you utilize the right game mechanics such as levels, points, leaderboards, badges, etc., the engagement levels of your eLearning game can soar significantly. Let’s take a look at some examples of gamification in online learning.

Slot Machine: Based on the theory of positive reinforcement, this game is highly effective to motivate learners.

Audio-Visual Crossword: Based on a common game played around the world, the audio-visual crossword includes clues in the form of images or audios to help learners recall the correct word.

Tic-Tac-Toe with Questions: We’ve all played this game at some point in our childhood. Most learners should relate to this game, which can be used to reinforce the most important concepts.

Spin the Wheel: This is probably the most recognized game around the world. In an assessment, a diverse variety of questions can be assigned to the wheel. Learners are asked questions about the category on which the spinning wheel stops.

interactive eLearning modules

Assessments and Quizzes

Oftentimes, these two terms are used interchangeably. However, they are somewhat different. An assessment is a more formal standard evaluation method, while a quiz is typically shorter, relatively informal, and doesn’t usually have a major impact on learners’ overall scores.  Yet, both effectively help learners identify their areas of improvement. Among the most common examples include:

Million Dollar Quiz: This is a good transformation to the traditional MCQ-based questions. Million-dollar quizzes test the knowledge of learners in a fun way, using money as the driver for learners.

Visual Assessment: Visual assessments take the learners through scenarios or stories before questioning and testing them. With this assessment, you can use multimedia elements, including a visual introductory screen and some audio-visual questions.

Final Word

By now, you should have developed an in-depth understanding of what interactive online learning is all about. Since you’re now aware of its potential to foster engagement and active learning, it’s time to start developing your interactive eLearning modules.

For a highly engaging online learning platform, contact Raccoon Gang today.

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