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click and read

A lot of people ask about building interactive e-learning and usually are dismissive of “click and read” e-learning. It’s easy to do that because most e-learning is boring and not very engaging. Often those courses are screen after screen of content with endless next buttons. And because of this, “click and read” gets a bad name.

Let’s unpack this a bit.

Content is content. We read books, articles, and blog posts. We listen to podcasts and radio. We watch television and videos. Most of this is linear content with little interactivity other than buttons to continue the progress or start the media.

Think about this, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Internet. It processes about 3 billion searches a month. There is not a lot of interactivity on YouTube. Yet for millions it’s the go-to help guide and training resource.

I don’t know about you, but I use it all the time. I’ve learned to do pool repairs, fix holes in sheetrock, and all sorts of other things. It doesn’t mean I became an expert in those things; but I became expert enough to do what I needed.

And here’s the key point: at no time did I complain that the content I was consuming wasn’t interactive enough.

What does that mean for e-learning courses?

  • Content isn’t boring. How it’s presented is. Focus on meaningful and relevant information.
  • Courses that are relevant to the learners are engaging. Just like the YouTube videos. If the content meets a need, it’s engaging, even if not overly interactive.
  • People don’t need to be complete experts on the topics taught. It’s better that they be situational experts and know how to use the content in meaningful situations.
  • Content exists in the real world. Most e-learning is boring because it exists in a different world than the one the learner lives.

Learning is a combination of content presentation, consumption, and application. Just because a course isn’t interactive doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Think of the e-learning course as just a part of the learning experience rather than the whole thing.

Create blended learning solutions where the e-learning represents content distribution and consumption that are blended with other in-world activities that represent the application of the content. This helps you step out of the trite “click and read e-learning is bad” trap.

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6 responses to “Here’s Why There’s Nothing Wrong with Click & Read E-Learning”

Excellent article! Thank you Tom!!!

Amen. Interactivity is in the mind not the mouse.

Thanks Tom, this is a great read and love the ‘situational experts’ line, I’m going to borrow that one 🙂

This is a great article and gives real food for thought. I feel like we’ve got stuck in a trap on our team of trying to be interactive to be more fun. But it also feels like we’re missing the mark with aesthetically too. I’d love to connect and talk about this some more.

I agree. I personally think the quality of the writing plays a big factor in the quality of a course instead of “interactivity.” There are so many ways to make just the writing engaging. For example, incorporating storytelling (everyone loves a good story) and humor (I honestly wish I could hire a comedy writer for every project).

November 19th, 2020

One key difference is motivation. When you go to YouTube you are motivated to learn and interested in the topic as an adult learner. Our challenge is to make e-learning easily consumable for unmotivated learners as well. Information dumps which many of the “click and read “courses end up being detrimental to the learning experience.

Learning at the moment of need and meeting/improving the learner motivation level to solve a problem results in the best courses


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