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Interactive Training Ideas for Effective Learning

Adib Bamieh

February 10, 2021

How can you leverage the right types of training to best meet your learning and development goals? We explore the different types of interactive training and how you can select the right methods for your team.

Gone are the days of 100 slide presentations and a few disjointed questions at the end -- these days training that is interactive is recognised as being much more effective. But how can you leverage the right types of training to best meet your learning and development goals? We explore the different types of interactive training and how you can select the right methods for your team.

What Is Interactive Training?

Interactive training is a learning style that requires actual interaction between the teacher and student, or increasingly, between students and learning software. It often incorporates digital technology, social interaction and networking, and active and practical learning. Gone are the days whereby individuals or groups learned through passive absorption of data, often presented in one-way lectures and passive training videos without the requirement of any interaction or practical application of knowledge.

How Effective Is Interactive Training?

Interactive learning encourages peer-to-peer interaction and learning. By removing the one-directional transfer of information and instead of opening up channels between students and back towards teachers, interactive learning promotes teamwork and dialogue. 

A study in March 2015 entitled ‘Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing is Better than Watching for Learning from a MOOC’ proves, well, just that. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have become quite the trend in the past decade, and have helped millions learn new skills. The reality, however, is that learning by passively watching videos and retaining information is not as effective as other types of learning; particularly interactive learning. Carnegie Mellon University found that students learned material at a rate of 6 times more using an interactive learning style called the ‘Simon Initiative Approach’.

Examples of Interactive Training

From billion-dollar projects to simple incorporation of existing technologies, interactive learning is not a one size fits all approach, nor does it require extensive technical knowledge of computer science and IT. 

At a very basic level, interactive training can be as simple as adding imagery and graphics to better convey a message. Students can undertake practical assignments, such as presenting their work to a class or group, creating video reports, or working in teams on multimedia projects. Roleplay, class quizzes, and practical exercises like mapping the solar system with students representing planets are all great ways to engage students.

Interactive Multimedia and Learning Technologies

Trainers and teachers can use interactive multimedia, from digital whiteboards to videos that incorporate tasks, and virtual learning environments. Consider group activities, once confined to small clusters within a classroom, now have the possibility of being enhanced by technology and connecting students around the world with their peers and other training leaders.

Virtual Learning Environments

An absolute necessity as proven by Covid is the ability to stream live lessons and hold classes in virtual classrooms. Virtual learning environments offer interactive spaces that can be accessed either at set times or can be flexible to suit individuals’ schedules. 

Game-based Learning and Gamification

Gamification or game-based learning are interactive forms of learning ideal for taking any subject and amplifying learning by engaging core human behaviours, like curiosity, playfulness, and amplification of learning through enjoyment.

Through gamification, students are required to hit certain targets and reach levels of knowledge and skill. Motivation to engage and perform well comes in the forms of rewards, leader boards, and avatars. Rewards include badges and points, peer competitiveness is encouraged via leader boards, and avatars allow learners to personalize their virtual identities.

Game-based learning, different from gamification, requires all the content to be translated and presented as a serious learning game in a gaming environment. Game-based learning turns learners into players. On their journey through the game, learners interact with different challenges, characters, and situations to learn new material and be tested on any topic or skill.

Choose Interactive Methods for Each Learner

Interactive training isn’t just for the outgoing, confident, or extroverted individuals. Students and employees who may struggle in group interactions and projects may instead do better by engaging with other digital types of interactive training that take the pressure off public speaking and performance and focus on safer, quieter spaces to learn. Game-based learning, gamification, and virtual platforms are prime examples of effective interactive learning that is inclusive and respectful to most learners’ needs.

Avoid Extremely Basic Interactions

It’s not enough for your learning content to have a simple ‘click-through’ button or need a check box to be ticked at the end of a video to confirm it’s been watched. The majority of employees (and most students) are immersed in interactive technology all the time. From mobile devices, smart TVs, video games, and even voice service platforms and assistants, people have increasingly short attention spans, higher needs for instant gratification, and higher expectations for technology-advanced day-to-day experiences.

Use Short (and Interactive) Videos 

TikTok videos run for up to 60 seconds. Before TikTok, Vine, an app whereby videos were only 7 seconds long, was hugely popular. The take-away: viewers get bored quickly. Capturing and holding their attention is difficult enough, but when you add a requirement to learn a piece of information or skill, video learning can become completely futile. Instead of long-drawn-out videos, use shorter videos, with aesthetically pleasing styles, interesting journeys, and rich graphics. These videos don’t need to break the learning and development budget. There are plenty of online services that will stitch together good content, and there is a world of high-quality stock videos, often accessible for quite small subscription fees. Use smart graphics and on-screen text to highlight important information, and add regular quizzes to test engagement. If you see engagement rates and performance scores continually drop, perhaps a video isn’t effective enough for the topic you’re wanting to cover.

Try Explorative Learning Environments

Learning environments are a space where students can explore different courses and learn at a pace suited to their needs. Students can change the order of learning, and revisit topics or take on extra tasks for the material they found particularly challenging or interesting. Giving learners the freedom to learn at their own pace needn’t take away the course deadlines or goals. Instead, it just gives control to the student, to interact with the teacher and the material as required.

Pick a Virtual Learning Environment Appropriate for Your Employees

The learning environment itself can be designed to emulate a real-life experience, stimulating learning through role-play and applied learning, and virtual situations. Large shared online platforms can offer a plethora of information and learning tools, available for employees to access, learn how to use, and then incorporate in their work as they see fit. There are multiple virtual learning environments available to be tested.

Include Simulated Scenarios

Many corporations adopt graphical environments as part of their learning and development programs, giving their employees the opportunity to practice their skills in a work environment identical to where those skills will eventually be applied. Factory workers, office staff, nurses and doctors, even nuclear power station employees can learn new skills and information, risk-free, and with much more interaction and effort on their part. Real-world simulations can also offer up a range of different scenarios that some employees would rarely encounter on the job. 

Adopt Gamification

We sing the praises of gamification as it can quite easily bring really good engagement levels through relatively simple changes. Leader boards, rewards, goofy little avatars, and points are all characteristics of gamified learning content. Injecting fun into the educational content won’t detract from the point, it will enhance it. Enticing learners to earn rewards for a personalised avatar or to compete against themselves, with the support of fellow employees are simply strategies that result in greater engagement and better performance.

Include a Game-based Learning Program

Picture this: a dashboard where you can see all hundreds (or thousands) of employees' task performance and behaviour. Some employees might be playing a game that teaches them about customer service, whilst others are learning about project management. The topics are endless, the results are consolidated, and, where necessary, employee behaviours can be altered. Decide on the objectives of your game-based learning strategy and consider trust-building, team-building, problem-solving and other decision-making exercises. With learning content completely absorbed into a gaming environment, learners often forget about learning fact to remember fact and instead learn it as a by-product of their gameplay. This emotional engagement with the topic causes employees to put their knowledge into great use; to get to the next level in their game. The best part? Game-based learning isn’t horrendously costly, complicated, or disruptive. For change-averse employees or those overwhelmed with work and unable or unwilling to make time for more work in the form of studies, game-based learning brings a fun solution to the table.

Incorporate Interpersonal Skills and Mental Health Management Training

It may be a given that nurses and doctors have a highly stressful job, but actually, most employees experience some sort of stress in the workplace. From customer support enduring screaming customers to web techs trying to solve sites crashing to pilots enduring rough weather, these are all emotionally triggering situations where training can help. Real-life scenarios provide non-real situations, in which employees have a safe space to react, manage their emotions, and make the correct decisions. Interactive learning can provide that space. Passive lecturing by a teacher can’t.

Factor in the Mistakes and Multiple Attempts

Whether an employee is engaged in a virtual learning environment, working in a group project, taking a quiz, or engaged in game-based learning, interactive training creates an environment where mistakes can be made. Better still, mistakes can be encouraged, because best-guesses and multiple attempts can be normalised. In lectures and presentations, learners are rarely given the opportunity to even attempt an answer. Instead, information is absorbed, stored, and utilised later (or at least, that’s the theory). With interactive learning, your employees can be given the option to repeatedly test their knowledge as they move through the course and receive feedback on their performance.

Use Tests and Quizzes to Promote Learning

Whether through game-based learning or simple group workshops, quizzes are fun, make individuals think in a time-pressured environment, and encourage collaboration and teamwork. They also often can glean information from the participants to re-share around the class, instead of the focus being on the teacher as the fountain of knowledge. Tests are an opportunity for learners to re-assert and reapply their knowledge and for training leaders to benchmark each learner’s performance against the learning targets.

It’s Easy to Use Interactive Training Effectively

Moving away from the one-directional transfer of knowledge from teacher to student, no matter how enthusiastic the student and how engaging the teacher, is a necessary step to making Learning and Development programs that deliver results. There are a multitude of ways to make interactive learning more effective, and many of them are relatively easy to incorporate and execute. Consider re-evaluating both your learning and development goals and strategies to make it 100% interactive.

Adeptly is an authoring tool that enables anyone to create decision-based learning games and record behavioural data. Create custom learning paths to achieve learning and development goals and easily track, assess, and adapt employee performance and behaviour.