“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Nowadays, with the increase in acceptance of online teaching learning aids, the awareness about the usefulness of the digital content has grown. It has become quite convenient to access good learning content if one truly knows and understands the right process of finding the same.
What you should know about the Interactive Learning Content?
Interactive content can be games, simulations, or even GIFs that allow students to observe and gain first-hand experience of scientific contexts or phenomena and also manipulate them in environments that would otherwise be impossible to create and experience within the bounds of a classroom.
With the increase in easily accessible online content, it has also become difficult and even more confusing to understand the appropriate content. People generally confuse passive engaging content like a nice video with interactive content where the user is actively engaged with the presented content as it constantly demands the user to input in order to move ahead, like in the popular game Super Mario.
How does interactive content lead to deeper understanding?
Interactive content keeps the user actively engaged and focused by seeking inputs from the users every now and then. This act of continuous user engagement leads to enhanced activity in the brain which is needed for deeper learning and knowledge retention.
One can understand this through the example of taking a cab versus driving a car to reach an unknown destination. It is easy to notice that the person who is actually driving (without Google maps) would remember the route much better than the person who is simply looking outside the window while the driver is driving the cab. It is akin to watching a nice video without actually paying too much attention which leads to passive learning and would be forgotten in no time.
Studies led by neuroscientists Daphne Bavelier and Simone Kuhn have shed light on the neuroscience perspective of learning from interactive content. Greater brain volume and plasticity with gameplay and greater transferability of skills such as hand-eye coordination, memory abilities and visual acuity have been some notable findings.[1,2,3]
In an online archery game on students’ problem-solving processes in relation to number problems by Kolovou and Heuvel-Panhuizen, it was observed that students performed better in the post-test than in the pre-test and there was some degree of improvement in problem-solving skills. 
In a quasi-experimental study by Huizenga et al., students who played the game (Frequency 1550) were found to be engaged and gained signiﬁcantly more knowledge about medieval Amsterdam than those who received regular classroom instruction. 
Framework for designing interactive learning content
Interactive learning content must amalgamate a good pedagogy structure and a robust game design to guarantee educational efficiency . According to Hirumi and Stapleton, a better game development may be achieved if the content experts of the game work constantly with game design. This is a practice we follow at EI.
The four important elements of a game are as follows:
- Context – Laying out a clear objective or learning goal and expected outcomes.
- Learner specific action – game mechanics and challenges
- Representation – The level of engagement, familiarity of interface with
the learner group and the internal reality and narrative of the game for effective learning.
- Pedagogic model or approach used – The usage of games in the contexts of learning theories – behaviourism, cognitivism, humanism and constructivism.
A well-designed game is built with the following elements : hook or storyline, specific goals/rules, adaptive challenges, ongoing feedback, rewards, and collectibles or power-ups.
EI’s way of making interactive learning content for Maths, English and Science
With it’s vast understanding of learning theories and team of subject matter experts EI has been making the interactive learning content for more than a decade now.
The following are some interactive content we have made for the upcoming Science adaptive learning platform.
- A game for classes 4, 5 and 6 about animals and their habitats.
- An interactive for teaching the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Students can drag the slider and observe the different changes as they occur.
- An interactive for understanding how different factors affect the transpiration. Students can alter the level of wind, light, humidity, temperature, etc. and observe the change in the amount of water lost from the test tube.
- An interactive to teach students image formation by concave mirrors. Students can drag the object along the principal axis and watch the position of the image change.
- An interactive to teach students the different processes involved in the nitrogen cycle.
Why interactive content is the need of the hour, especially during Covid-19
It is quite interesting to see how teachers who are not so tech savvy has accepted the use of online learning platform with so much ease and have been using it for quite some time. However, the importance and the role of tools and physical activities in learning can’t be ignored.
Recommendation for teachers
- Make the academic content integral to the game rather than an add-on. Content-specific tasks work better when embedded in the fictional context and rules of the game. For example, in a maths game, asking learners to compute distances to help a likeable game character jump over obstacles will be more engaging than asking them to complete traditional maths tests in order to make a story advance.
- Do not regard games as possible distractors.
- Place learning activities and academic content within the video game’s fictional and entertainment context, maintaining a balance between ‘fun’ and ‘learning’.
- Carefully plan the roles that you and your learners will take on in the game. Teachers should play roles that allow them to mediate the experience for learners: providing guidance when needed; ensuring that rules are followed; and maintaining a respectful atmosphere. 
Future work needed
There is a pressing need to delineate the relationship between game-based learning and academic achievement in the context of educational assessment with clearly defined metrics.
- De Freitas S. Are games effective learning tools? A review of educational games. Journal of Educational Technology & Society. 2018 Apr 1;21(2):74-84.
- McDermott AF, Bavelier D, Green CS. Memory abilities in action video game players. Computers in Human Behavior. 2014 May 1;34:69-78.
- Kühn S, Gleich T, Lorenz RC, Lindenberger U, Gallinat J. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Molecular psychiatry. 2014 Feb;19(2):265-71.
- Kolovou A, Heuvel-Panhuizen MV. Online game-generated feedback as a way to support early algebraic reasoning. International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life Long Learning. 2010 Jan 1;20(2):224-38.
- Huizenga J, Admiraal W, Akkerman S, Dam GT. Mobile game‐based learning in secondary education: engagement, motivation and learning in a mobile city game. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 2009 Aug;25(4):332-44.
- Ahmad M, Rahim LA, Arshad NI. A review of educational games design frameworks: An analysis from software engineering. In2014 International Conference on Computer and Information Sciences (ICCOINS) 2014 Jun 3 (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
- Hirumi A, Stapleton C. Applying pedagogy during game development to enhance game-based learning. InGames: Purpose and potential in education 2009 (pp. 127-162). Springer, Boston, MA.
- Perrotta C, Featherstone G, Aston H, Houghton E. Game-based learning: Latest evidence and future directions. Slough: NFER. 2013 Apr.
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