Dec 8

The Four Levels of eLearning Interactivity And Its Uses

If you are using eLearning resources, planning to develop, or simply interested in this type of training, it is important to understand that eLearning courses can be categorized based on the level of interactivity they offer. This categorization is helpful in determining the desired level of interactivity for your eLearning courses.

For basic information distribution, a straightforward page-turner course may be sufficient. However, if you want to promote learner engagement and interaction, a more interactive eLearning course becomes necessary. It is essential to strike the right balance of interactivity. Keep in mind that more interactivity does not always equate to greater effectiveness. Choose the appropriate level of interaction based on your specific needs and objectives.

Level of Interaction is a metric used in eLearning that refers to concepts such as user interaction, complexity and level of sophistication of the course.
Let's look at the details:

4 Levels Explained

Level 1: Passive Interaction

This level is the least interactive out of the four. Level 1 courses provide information to learners in a way that only requires their passive involvement. Learners can simply watch or read the information presented to them without performing any additional functions. In this level, learners are passive recipients of knowledge.

Level 1 courses have the following characteristics:

- A linear format with limited navigational freedom, typically only allowing users to click forward or backward.
- Static text and graphics.
- A voiceover to accompany the text and graphic information.

Because the primary form of interaction in these courses is clicking forward and backward, level 1 elearning modules are sometimes referred to as "click-next" or "page-turner" courses.

The elements commonly found in level 1 courses include:

- Directional navigation buttons.
- Images, tables, and text without animations.
- External links to supplementary content such as podcasts, videos, PDF downloads, etc.
- Simple assessment questions such as true or false and multiple-choice questions.

Level 1 interactivity in eLearning instructional design is most suitable when resources and time are limited, and the subject matter is easy to understand.

Level 2: Limited Interaction

At this level, the learning experience becomes more engaging and interactive. Although the interactions are simpler compared to higher levels, the range of activities increases.

Learners have more freedom to navigate through menus and can perform basic functions such as drag-and-drop and click-to-reveal exercises. Additionally, multimedia elements like diagrams, graphics, videos, and audio are used instead of plain text. Level 2 courses may also include personalized avatars for each learner.

To summarize, the key elements found in level 2 courses are:

- Open navigation menus instead of locked, linear navigation
- Activities that require learners to perform functions such as drag and drop, matching, timelines, click and reveal, etc.
- Advanced assessments that incorporate the activities mentioned above
- Videos, audio, and interactive graphics and diagrams
- Personalized learner avatars

Level 2 courses in eLearning instructional design are commonly used for reinforcement and revision modules that assess learner recall and refresh their memories.

Level 3: Moderate Interaction

In level 3, learners actively engage in the learning process through interactive activities that require both mental and emotional involvement. This higher level of interactivity makes level 3 activities more challenging.

Level 3 introduces elements such as narratives, scenarios, and role-plays. Assessments become more intricate and may require learners to provide answers instead of selecting options.

Therefore, the commonly used components in level 3 courses include:

- Stories, comic strips, and other techniques that evoke empathy
- Assessments that encourage critical thinking and open-ended responses
- Videos and audios, similar to level 2 courses
- Scenarios
- Characters that learners can relate to

Level 3 courses are often used in complex training areas and are favored by L&D departments because they promote high engagement and learner participation.

Level 4: Full (Simulation and Game-Based) Interaction

This level represents the highest level of interaction in eLearning instructional design. It allows learners to engage in a wide range of actions during learning activities, providing real-time practice opportunities.

Simulations and gamification are commonly used methods for delivering level 4 courses. While gamification elements can also be found in level 3 courses, level 4 courses go beyond assessment activities. For example, game-based learning may be used to teach different action sequences instead of simply testing the learner's recall of those sequences.

Simulations are another effective approach for imparting knowledge to learners. They involve virtual settings that imitate real-world environments and may include narratives to provide structure to the course.

Level 4 courses incorporate elements such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), gaming technology, 3D models of objects and places, realistic avatars, and more.

Naturally, producing level 4 courses is expensive and time-consuming, but they are highly effective for specific training needs. They are best suited for developing complex skills and for fields where learners' actions can have significant real-world consequences, such as healthcare and aviation. Level 4 courses are also well-suited for teaching technical and mechanical skills that involve disassembling, assembling, and servicing objects and devices.

Which levels of interactivity?

The interaction level that fits the most for your company and your corporate objectives is based on many factors, for example:
- Nature of the content
- Technological infrastructure
- Budget
- Target audience

Below is a matrix that maps the four levels of interactivity in eLearning with the specified factors, using a rating scale of 1-5:


The matrix presented serves as a guide, offering a structured approach to decision-making when it comes to choosing the appropriate level of interactivity in eLearning.

Whether you opt for passive learning or dive into the realm of high interaction, a thoughtful and strategic approach ensures that the chosen modality aligns with your content, technology, budget, and, most importantly, the needs of your target audience. As the eLearning landscape continues to evolve, the judicious integration of interactivity will remain a cornerstone in shaping the future of effective online education.