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Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - 3 things to consider when building interactive elearning

In a recent post, I built a drag and drop video player where you can select and drag a video title to load a video tutorial. I got lots of questions about how I built the player. Most of the questions were about how I built the drag-and-drop player. So I put together some tutorials and made the file available for download.

One reason why the post generated so many questions is because of the novelty of dragging the choice button to load a tutorial video. This makes sense. In most cases this type of demo would have been a click and reveal interaction; but the drag and drop choice added some novel interactivity.

However, was using a drag and drop button the best way to do it? That’s what we’ll explore today.

Core Interactivity

Essentially you have three types of onscreen interactions: click, hover, and drag. We discussed that in the previous post on interactive building blocks.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - interactive elearning building blocks

Often the interactive elements are interchangeable. But that doesn’t mean that they work equally the same in your interaction design.

In the original interaction, the user reviewed a list of videos and then dragged the choice to a box. This loaded information about the video. Then the user clicked a play button. It was a novel way to play videos, but was it the best way?

In today’s post we’re going to revisit the drag and drop player to look at a few other options we had in the design.

Drag & Click: Novel Interaction Can Engage Users

One of the reasons the player generated so much interest is because it was a novel way to design a tutorial module.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - drag and click interactive elearning

Normally, this type of demo would be a simple “click the button” type tutorial. But instead the user could drag the choice to another location. And this novelty is kind of fun because it’s different.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of an interactive elearning course and tutorial

Click here to view the drag & click demo.

Novelty is a great way to engage people and draw their interest. But, novelty wears off really fast. If there were only 2-3 choices, this type of novelty is probably fine. In the case of the demo, it’s probably a little too much because there are a lot of buttons to choose and the dragging interaction is tedious.

Click & Click: How Many Clicks Does It Take?

Click and reveal interactions tend to be the most frequently used. The most often we see them is when we click “next” buttons.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - click and click interactive elearning

In the second example below, the user clicks the tutorial button to load the description of the videos. And then she can choose to click the play button to view the video.

This is a typical type of interaction. The value in clicking to load the information is that unlike the dragging, you don’t have to move the mouse. It’s a little more efficient and it locks the information on the screen until another user action.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of an interactive elearning course and tutoria

Click here to view the click & click demo.

The downside is that it requires a lot more clicking and since the play button is across the screen, it requires a lot more mouse movement. Again, if there were fewer buttons that would probably be OK. But in this case, it’s too many clicks and mouse movement.

Hover & Click: Efficient & Intuitive Movement is Key

Hover (or mouseover) interactions are nice because they allow access to additional information with very little mouse movement.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - hover and click interactive elearning

In the third example below, the user hovers the mouse over the tutorial button which exposes the video description. At that point, she can choose to click and watch the video or hover the mouse over a different button.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of an interactive elearning course and tutoria

Click here to view the hover & click demo.

This is a much more efficient way to navigate because everything’s in one place with minimal movement. One negative though is that with the hover interaction you can quickly lose information. Unlike a click interaction which freezes the screen until another click, the hover loses it as soon as you move to something new.

As you can see there are pros and cons to each interactive building block and much of it is subjective. The main point is to make it as efficient and intuitive for your users as possible. If you have to spend a lot of time explaining what to do, you should revisit your design.

Also keep in mind that novelty is great to engage them, but it’s important to not exhaust and frustrate the users with excessive novelty.

I mentioned this before. If you’re building interactive elearning it’s important to learn more about usability and designing user experiences. Here’s a link to some resources and book recommendations.

I also just started reading Undercover User Experience Design. I like its practical approach to UX and the book’s not too long (a plus for me).

What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them by clicking on the comments link.


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16 responses to “3 Things to Consider When Building Interactive E-Learning”

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November 13th, 2012

As with it’s important to note that your choice of interaction will be more limited if you are trying to create interactions and content that are accessible to people with visual limitations and who therefore use a screen reader, or who use keyboard navigation due to mobility and fine motor skills constraints (picture Stephen Hawking for example).

Namely, stay away from drag and drop. A blind user can’t figure out where to drop, or even know where they are on the screen, and “click and drag” can’t be done with a keyboard as far as I know. Storyline’s own VPAT mentions this constraint.

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November 17th, 2012

I agree with you. The drag and drop button makes the thing easy. And it is the best way to do it. Very Smart ! 🙂

[…] I built the player. Most of the questions were about how I built the drag-and-drop player.See on Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published: November 19, 2012 […]

November 21st, 2012

Can you please identify if the topic/idea is Storyline. I have been doing a lot of reserach and think I have found a great idea, only to find it is Storyline. This is frustrating and very time consuming.

Thank you in advance for directing me to just Articulate 9 articles/tutorials, etc. I don’t think I’ll be gettting Storyline in the near future, so, I have to maximize 9.

@Kathy: Thanks for the feedback. I try to keep the blog posts relatively generic and not specific to any tool. In this case, while the demos were built in Storyline, the topic is really not Storyline-specific. It’s more about interactivity in general and thinking through the user experience. Of course the tools you use have their own limitations.

When working with PPT to Flash products (like Studio), you tend to be limited to click and reveal interactions. Although this will change with the new Studio update because Quizmaker will have a drag and drop conversion feature similar to Storyline.

While there are some things you can’t do with PPT, there are often work arounds. What were you trying to do? Perhaps there’s a different way to approach.

November 26th, 2012

My next project is policy/regulatory updates. I have been charged with including gaming concepts that engage, motivate, accelerate and increase learner retention. I have been scouring every blog and tutorial you have. I can use quizmaker – RSI w/ point value that builds by answer; but, this still seems to be pretty linear.

I have to submit my gaming model tomorrow (11/27).

Thank you so much for responding to my questions.