Interactivating course material basically should be intuitively understandable. A student that visit the course module for the first time should not need to read any user manual in order to be able to orientate herself on the platform’s tools and content. However, this goal is not always that easy to achieve. The following three methods to structure content for interactive course material improve the prerequisites for a user-friendly learning-environment.
Linear content is the most common method. It is aimed at that the student should interpret sequences of events and processes where step one is followed by step two. For example that World War I was followed by World War II. Or that the manufacturing industry buys raw-material that then is manufactured and in the other end comes for instance a BMW, a product that then is sold through resellers. The developer of interactive courses should then become an author and create an interactivating story from beginning to end that include text, multimedia exercises and internet research. In most cases more engines could be used of those that were mentioned in part 1 in this series of articles.
This means a formal complex interacting phenomenon that includes all components in a system and how these components affect each other. One example is how a new policy affects different individuals and departments in an organisation; another could be how a car-engine works. In both cases the focus is on the functions in a closed system, not the result. Simulation is often the best engine to create this type of interactive course-material.
Cyclic content means many seemingly independent activities that can be combined in order to create a required result. The basic structure requires despite activities also timing and overview. This works well for instance in order to learn to drive a car or to play the guitar. But cyclic content could also be used to practice all forms of work-related skills as well as plan a strategy to reach a desired outcome. Virtual gaming modules often work well for cyclic content.
All these three forms of content structure and the four engines to deliver the content; simulations, virtual games, pedagogically built exercises and internet researches are all parts to implement the learning by doing method virtually. The pilot study, however, that should answer how to achieve the goals with the course the cyclic method is used where different combinations of engines and content is tested in order to reach the desired outcome. But since a building e.g. an interactive course, should be built from bottom and up. Then the developer’s first decision should be to decide if the linear-, systematic- or cyclic method should be used.
The last part in this series of articles about the basics of the art of creating interactive courses will deal with user-friendliness and pedagogy.