When we think of “Interaction Design”, we always remember and relate it to website design or application design. But, why don’t we relate it to Digital Learning? Why don’t we try Interaction Design in Digital Learning? If your answer is “Yes, we should”, then let us explore and make our Digital Learning experiences more engaging and more interactive with the help of Interaction Design.
In this article, I will be talking about 6 ways in which you can use Interaction Design to uplift digital learning experiences. Let’s first refresh our knowledge of interaction design.
What is Interaction Design?
“Interaction Design is the creation of a dialogue between a person and a product, system, or service. This dialogue is both physical and emotional and is manifested in the interplay between form, function, and technology as experienced over time.”
– Jon Kolko, Author of Thoughts on Interaction Design (2011)
Interaction Design (IxD) is an important part of user experience (UX) design. It helps the interaction designers to focus beyond the development and allows them to think the way users interact with it. As a result, it helps to design and create highly interactive products and services that have aesthetic and emotional value. Don Norman says, “It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
As learning design experts, we should understand the importance of Interaction Design. By implementing IxD in the right way, we can not only design highly interactive learning, but we can also bring life, excitement, pleasure, and fun into digital learning.
The human attention span is going down every year (thanks to technology!). Now, the average attention span of most people in the world is 8 to 12 seconds. In such a scenario, if we design our digital learning products with less or no interaction, neither will it meet the purpose, nor will there be any positive ROI.
So, what should we do as Interaction Designers or Learning Design experts? We should understand the constraints of the user and think in the way the user thinks. We should design each screen and interactivity in such a way that all the design elements together can help and motivate the user to learn better. Pay attention to every part of digital learning; this includes the user interface (UI), buttons, colors, images, illustrations, and content. In other words, learning design experts are responsible for creating every element on the screen in such a way that it has the potential to attract the user to interact with it. This can be implemented through clicks, swipes, or taps. Now, let’s look at the 5 dimensions of Interaction Design and how they can help us to design better interactions.
The 5 Dimensions of Interaction Design
The 5 dimensions of Interaction Design is a model, which helps us to understand and measure the effectiveness of Interaction Design. These dimensions of Interaction Design language were introduced by Gillian Crampton Smith and Kevin Silver.
Words should be simple to convey your message and understand the information in the right way. Please remember that there shouldn’t be too many or too little words. In both conditions, we will not be able to interact successfully with the user. Therefore, when you are instructing the user, it needs to be specific and to the point. So, an instruction like “Click on the button to know more” will not solve the purpose every time.
2D: Visual Representations
In digital learning, we know the importance of images, typography, and icons. These visuals will represent the words and supplement the words. When we use visuals effectively, we can communicate information to the user in an interesting and better way.
3D: Physical Objects or Space
Physical object or space refers to physical devices, such as hardware and devices used by the user. We should know about the device the user can or will use well in advance so that we can design the interaction better. Also, we should be mindful of the space too. For example, Interaction Design can have distinct approach looking at the consumption of your digital learning. It will be different for the users taking the learning on a subway using their iPad/smartphone from the users sitting at their desk using their laptops.
Time refers to how long users might have to spend their time in learning. It refers to how long they spend interacting with the first three dimensions. Time can help us to determine how much interaction is needed to successfully engage the user with the learning content.
Behavior helps us understand the reactions of users and enables us to measure all previous dimensions. It provides feedback on the interactions and helps to bridge the gaps.
Let’s look at the animation below that demonstrates how these 5 dimensions of interaction design can bring the required change in digital learning.
As we can see, these 5 dimensions work together to provide better and useful interaction for the user.
Now, let’s look at the 6 ways in which Interaction Design can uplift digital learning experiences.
6 Ways to Enhance Digital Learning Experiences
- User Interface: We should clearly define and inform the users how they can interact with the user interface. A help screen which talks about the user interface and commonly used buttons can be useful for the users.
- Behavior: We need to provide clues about each behavior before the user takes any action. The clues tell the users well in advance what they must do to move forward with their action. This can include meaningful user instructions, buttons, or labels.
- Errors: We should anticipate and try to mitigate the errors that generally creep into the design. Provide instructions to avoid the errors and also show error messages to prevent future errors. Helpful error messages provide solutions and context to users.
- Feedback and Response Time: We should define interactivity in such a way that when the user performs an action, the system should acknowledge the action and the user should know what he/she is doing. Response time is defined in four levels: immediate (less than 0.1 second), stammer (0.1 to 1 second), interruption (1 to 10 seconds), and disruption (more than 10 seconds).
- Elements: We must strategically think about each element of design. Fitts’ law tells about the effective use of design elements. If there is a button, it needs to be big enough for the user to be able to click on it. Fitts’ law also talks about the edges and corners and placing of your buttons, which can be easily accessible through your mouse or finger.
- Learnability: We should always try to simplify the interactivity as much as possible for better learnability. It involves chunking of information, usage of familiar formats, flexibility, etc.
At Tesseract Learning, Interaction Design process is at the heart of our digital learning design process. I hope this article gave you insights and useful tips, which you can apply to create better Digital Learning experiences. If you have any specific queries, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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