E-learning draws on interactivity. Without it you could just as well send a PDF file to all “participants”. Encouraging users to interact with their training, on the other hand, leads to them being more motivated to learn. Also, content is internalized better and more sustainably.
The possibilities to design e-learning with more interactivity are numerous: topics can be discussed or trainers can integrate small tests so that learners have to answer questions. Another very nice possibility is the integration of complete learning contents into courses as HTML5 or SCORM packages. How that works will be explained here. While doing so, we will also take a closer look on the differences between HTML5 and SCORM.
To be fair: SCORM and HTML5 sounds like something for advanced e-learning users. But no need to worry, there are simpler ways to build up interactivity in your courses. First, the learning software creates an interactive learning structure in which it can be clicked back and forth. This way, content is divided into small “bites”; the user only clicks forward when they internalized the learning step at hand. It is a good idea to complete every step with a test question. The user stays involved this way and participants as well as trainers get to see whether contents are really understood. These questions can be very diverse, from multiple choice over essay questions to hotspot. However, every learning step should also provide the possibility to pose own questions, which trainers can answer at the same step.
Besides these ways to interactivity – which are integrated in the e-learning system – there are external methods that can be managed with the help of authoring tools. These possibilities include: clicking elements, moving them to the “right place”, dynamic texts, extending elements, and many more. By means of authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline these contents can be designed independently, exported as ZIP file, and then following be integrated into the learning management system. No worries, the different file formats do not influence the learning experience or the look of the course. It is merely the modality of the exchange between course and LMS that is specified by the different protocols. So basically they define how the LMS reads and presents content and retrieves results where applicable.
The two following sections should show that SCORM and HTML5 are not too difficult either. Nevertheless, you should be aware of some bases.
The „Sharable Content Object Reference Model“ – or short SCORM – is seen as a standard for e-learning since its introduction in 2000. It serves as a kind of container for contents such as HTML5, flash or videos. Besides interactive elements, SCORM contents enable to control how long participants needed for single learning steps within the course, or rather how much time was actually spent to conclude the course. These results from SCORM modules can be retrieved by the LMS.
This way, tests can consist of different question types or also include drag and drop tasks. After passing the SCORM module the LMS receives the score and can combine it with other course contents or modules. However, it is mostly the overall performance that is retrieved by the LMS rather than results of single questions.
A disadvantage of the SCORM solution is that your company needs a license for the usage. The SCORM Cloud license is graded depending on registrations per users and SCORM package on a monthly basis.
From authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline, interactive courses can also be saved as HTML5 package. By exporting them as a ZIP file, HTML5 contents can be uploaded to the LMS subsequently, so that the courses are available there. There is no need for external plugins as the LMS already comes with everything needed.
In contrast to SCORM modules, the integration of HTML5 packages does not provide the retrieving of results by the LMS. However, the level of education can be easily tested and assessed by combination with additional contents, for example with tests generated from a question pool. This way, the varied courses are also suitable for the qualification of employees.
HTML5 allows for different possibilities to create courses and often leads to very interesting learning elements that offer a huge added value for learners when it comes to fun and interactivity. Here again, an external license for the authoring tool is required. By comparison with the SCORM Cloud however, the license is not based on the number of end users and is, in most cases, distinctly cheaper. The author of the course creates the interactive HTML5 packages ideally with one single user license which is offered by Articulate for 999 US dollar per year.
With the integrated interactivity of a learning management system you are already set-up well. You can start right away and measure learning results. But some additional interactivity on one point or the other cannot hurt. Depending on your needs and possibilities, you can rely on simple authoring tools or advanced software and then integrate created content via HTML5 or maybe even SCORM where applicable. But keep in mind that it is important not to let your course degenerate into a gimmick of various videos and animations. Rather use the interactive elements wisely where they promote motivation and understanding. This way, you are ready for successful qualification in your company!