How to Use Interactions to Boost Learner Retention

How to Use Interactions to Boost Learner Retention featured image

In today’s world, constant interaction with technology is simply a part of our daily lives. To put this in perspective, people spend an average of three to four hours a day on their phones — that’s around one-fourth of their waking hours. Access to touchscreens, games, and video content has never been easier, and with the transition to 5G and fiber optic internet, that access happens even faster.

People expect responsiveness and interaction from technology, and they expected it quickly. If that’s not enough pressure, they also want a fantastic and beautiful experience.

And when people step out the door to go to the office, these expectations travel with them.

Why creating a great learning experience matters to you

Many businesses work hard to make sure their customers have a great experience with external facing websites and applications. But internally, the employees get older (and often headache-inducing) tools. Often, internal learning and training get left behind completely, with patchwork updates that only increase confusion and inconsistency. When this happens, learner engagement suffers, retention decreases, and that ROI just doesn’t return.

One of the largest dangers to learning comprehension and motivation is learner disappointment and distraction. To combat this danger, it’s important to create content that motivates the learner to embrace learning and change on their own. Essentially, you want to create an experience that motivates the learner to motivate themselves.

To create this motivation, outdated training needs to go. Instead, focus on how to make your learning engaging, relevant, and tangible to the learner. One important way you can make this happen is through carefully crafted interactions.

Why are interactions important in learning?

You’ve probably heard someone say, “I don’t really understand this. But if I could just do it, I could figure it out.” In most cases, the more active the learning, the better people retain information. This doesn’t mean learning while on the treadmill (though that’s possible), it means learning information that can be actively applied in day-to-day life.

In order to learn, people do. For example, learning through experience is the whole basis for internships. It gets students and learners out of the classroom and directly into the workforce. While it’s often not possible to have a virtual, eLearning internship (at least, not yet), we can design learning that encourages the learner to interact with the content.

The key is to design interactions that enhance the learning experience, not distract from it.

Design interactions that enhance your learning experience

Before incorporating interactions, always take a step back and ask two questions:

  • How does this interaction help my learner?
  • How does this interaction enhance the learning content?

The learner and the content must always be a priority — the interactions should just enhance the learner’s connection with the content. Often, strategic interactions that support learning are surprisingly simple and straightforward. These interactions might be selectables, such as:

  • Flippable flashcards
  • Hotspots
  • Dropdown accordions
  • Tabs

Or, the interactions might be story-based, such as branching scenarios that change according to learner choices. Even small interactions pull the learner deeper into the learning, increasing retention.

It’s not wrong to include some amazing interactions into your learning, but if those interactions cause the learner any frustration or pull the learner out of the learning experience, the interactions haven’t done their job. Interactions should never only be engaging. They must be engaging, functional, and strategic.

Related Blog Post

5 Benefits to Replacing ILT with eLearning

Choose learning tools that allow you to build custom interactions

Here at Maestro, we use Articulate 360’s applications Rise and Articulate Storyline to build our learning courses. The reason? Crisp interactive elements, excellently designed for the best user experience possible.

Articulate Rise

Rise uses a scrolling format. As a learner interacts with elements and proceeds down the page, the next section of the learning appears. With great opportunities for customization and video integration, Articulate Rise is a near-seamless platform for straightforward training.

Articulate Storyline

As a more traditional learning platform, Storyline is voiceover driven and great for in-depth learning. It walks the learner through fully-customizable slides and allows detailed interactions alongside video and audio integration. The interactions can be simple, intricate, or anywhere in between, allowing for many different branching possibilities and feedback opportunities.

(Interested in an honest review of Articulate 360 by our designers? Check out this post.)

Use interactions to power your ILT

If your company uses eLearning as a supplement and still primarily focuses on ILT (instructor-led training), interactions are still critically important. Work training is notorious for being boring — and it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of simply sitting employees down and lecturing, consider ways to incorporate interactions.

Practical workshop moments

One of the most powerful ways to bring interaction into ILT is to create workshops where your employees work together to solve problems, tackle training scenarios, and build teamwork.

Walk through real-world scenarios

Every employee wants to know how the training helps them in the real world. Create scenarios and walk through examples of the training’s more practical aspects. If you have real-life stories of the training in action, this is even more effective.

Create tangible demonstrations

In high school, the science lessons that stuck with you probably involved building volcanos or dissecting frogs — the lessons where you actively did something exciting (or gross)This is no different for employees. In ILT, demonstrations focus less on telling and more on showing. This means examples that the learner can touch and directly interact with — creating an intensely memorable moment. Since creating a tangible demonstration can be time consuming and expensive (depending on the project), augmented reality apps are growing in popularity.


Augmented reality is quickly becoming a new way to create interaction in learning. With a single app, your business can create a learning experience learners will never forget. For example, if you are training learners how to assemble or disassemble a specific engine component, AR using mobile or a headset can project the component right before the learner, and the learner can walk through the assembly and disassembly at their own pace.

Learning content + interactions = retention

When you build interactions that help shape, channel, and enhance your learning, you fulfill learner expectations, decrease frustration, and increase learning retention. Interactions are a powerful tool for creating content that engages your learners and gives them an unforgettable learning experience.

Your learners deserve it (and your training ROI will thank you).

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