Friday, May 22, 2009

Interactive or Page Turning Learning

Recently I have been involved in a discussion about Interactive or page turning learning. For those of you unfamiliar with the term page turning learning, this is the kind of learning where an individual listens and watches a concept being explained by an instructor. The only time they get to interact with the training is when they are asked to click a button to move to the next page / slide. In Adobe Captivate terms page turning learning is the kind of learning you would create as a demonstration.

Before going any further, it is only fair to point out that for over 10 years I created page turning learning in the form of video tutorials for the online training company Virtual Training Company. During this period I received countless e-mails thanking me for developing what was then considered to be some of the best video tutorials on my specialist subject Dreamweaver. I am therefore not completely against this kind of learning.

Additionally, at work I still create our feature tours using Captivates demonstration mode.

However the big question is this. Does page turning training enable learners to grasp the concepts you are trying to teach and make those mental connections required to ensure that they recall what they have learned after a certain period of time?

In most cases, to ensure that a learner can fully grasp what you are trying to teach them they need to engage with the training. If you are reading this and think that this type of interaction can be accomplished simply adding a quiz at the end of your course, then be aware that this might not be a good indication that your learners have been successful. Many learners are able to pass a quiz soon after they have completed a training course, simply because they have a good memory.

So if page turning or demonstration-based learning is considered ineffective, what are the advantages of creating an interactive training course?

Below are some reasons why interactive training can be more effective:

  1. It can be measured.
    Demonstration based learning does not provide you with a clear indication of how well a learner performed, whereas with interactive based learning you have the ability to track and score every time a learner interacts with the learning.

    Adobe Captivate enables you to track and score each interactive object such as a click box, button etc via the Reporting tab. The interactive data can also be published to a Learning Management System or Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. In fact any interactive learning project can be treated as a quiz, providing the learner with a score at the end using the Quiz Results slide

  2. Failure is acceptable.
    One of the reasons why I think that interactive learning can be so effective is because it provides learners with a safe environment in which to fail. Whilst failure isn’t always seen as a positive thing - after all who wants to fail at something, right! – making mistakes can be a very effective way to learn.

    There are two advantages here:

    Firstly, software training learners (especially those new to a subject) don’t have to worry about breaking the software. In the past when I was a classroom trainer, many students on the first day would want reassurance that they couldn’t damage the software before they were prepared to try out the tasks themselves.

    Secondly, Interactive training can provide a learner with feedback that can assist them perform the task at hand. In addition, if they repeatedly fail they can be redirected to an earlier part of the course, or at least encouraged to review additional learning before they continue.

    In Adobe Captivate you can provide visual feedback using success, failure and hint captions and redirect additional learning using branching. You can also determine what happens if the learners passes or fails the lesson or course.

  3. Learners can discover the learning for themselves.
    Thanks to the fact that Adobe Captivate includes the ability to branch, your courses don’t have to be linear. Learners can branch from one section of the course to another, enabling them to discover the learning for themselves.

    Adobe Captivate has great branching capabilities, enables you to visualize the branching using the Branching view and thanks to the new scripting feature – Advanced Actions and Variables introduced in Adobe Captivate 4 - provides you with a great set of tools for creating advanced interactivity.

    If you need to go the extra mile and own the Adobe eLearning Suite, you can create even more complex interactivity using Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, which includes a comprehensive set of Learning Interactions.

  4. It is self-paced.
    Another benefit of interactive learning is that it enables a learner to learn at their own pace. As creator of eLearning content as well as a consumer, I want to understand the steps being demonstrated before the instructor moves on to even more advanced concepts.

    There have been many occasions when watching a video tutorial where I have shouted back at the screen “back up, I don’t get that bit, show me those steps again.”

    Yes, you can always just rewind the video and play it again, but that certainly isn’t as effective as being able to try out the steps for yourself before you move on to the next series of steps.

    Using the self-paced option built into the Table of Contents feature you can enable learners to dip in and out of a training course.

Can page turning learning ever be effective?

In some cases this style of learning can still be very effective, particularly if you are creating learning for advanced learning where a learner is already very comfortable in the subject matter but just wants to take this to the next level.

It is also fair to say that in the right hands demonstration based learning can be a very powerful tool.

Both Adobe Captivate and Adobe Presenter (part of the Adobe eLearning Suite) can be used to create good quality demonstration based learning.

In some cases even with interactive training it is possible to sprinkle bits of demonstration learning. An example of which in where a learner is already performed a particular task several times earlier in the course and easing of the interactive peddle is possible.

Happy Holidays for Monday

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