Adding interactivity to online content

Ben Chenoweth, Educational Designer / eLearning Coordinator at the Melbourne School of Theology discusses adding interactivity to asynchronous content in theological education.

What can be done?

Much of the online content in theological education is not very interactive. (I’m talking asynchronous content here, where the student can choose when they will access course materials. Synchronous content, such as virtual classrooms using BigBlueButton or the like, will by definition be interactive – at least, one would hope!)  Asynchronous course content is usually presented either as text or as video. The student is required to read or watch the content, and it is up to them how engaged they are. (Of course, providing them with engaging written content and/or videos definitely helps!)


If you’re set on using video then check out H5P’s Interactive Video. Add interactivity to your video with explanations, extra pictures, tables, Fill in the Blank, and multiple-choice questions. Quiz questions support adaptivity, meaning that you can jump to another part of the video based on the user’s input. Interactive summaries can also be added at the end of the video. While there is clearly a lot of work required to set up interactive videos, the end results will definitely be worth it. (See for more details. H5P is available as a Moodle plugin.)


But what about text-based content? Here at Melbourne School of Theology we have two customisations that add significant interactivity to our Moodle Pages. The first is “click to reveal” blocks. Essentially, the student is asked to think about a particular question. When they have considered their response, they can click a link to reveal what the lecturer thinks about the question. While a student could simply click the link without stopping to answer the question for themselves, it is hoped that the physical act of clicking will give them sufficient pause. (Moodle admins, this facility is provided by custom JavaScript code and custom CSS.)

The second customisation is the Student Notes plugin. This plugin allows students to type their response to a question directly on the Moodle Page. What they type is stored on the Moodle server and is automatically retrieved when they view the page on subsequent occasions. What’s great about this is that the lecturer can also see what students have entered. (Students are told this ahead of time!) This allows the lecturer to gauge both the student’s course participation and their learning.

These two customisations work really well together. Here’s what it looks like:

The student then types in their response:

Then they click the link which opens the lecturer’s response:

(Note that the number 5 is the field number for that response box which is used by the lecturer to connect student responses to specific questions. Moodle admins, this plugin is not currently available publicly. Please contact [email protected] for the Student Notes plugin zip file and the “click to reveal” customisations.)

Join the Conversation

What about you? Do you have any suggestions concerning making online course content interactive? Let us know by emailing [email protected]