We continue our exploration of the ways in which users can interact with online media by looking at those interactions that require users to sort and connect items on the screen.
In case you missed them, you might want to look first at the introductory post for this series, Interaction in online media and the posts covering what are undoubtedly the two principal forms of interaction – selecting and supplying.
Organising is not so prevalent as a mode of interaction but you’ll definitely need to use it from time to time, particularly in online learning materials and assessments.
Matching interactions require the user to identify related pairs in two sets of items. Typically one of the sets is made up of concepts and the other of attributes which characterise those concepts, for example:
- Match these animals with their natural habitats.
- Match these regions with their primary economic outputs.
- Match these books with their authors.
Matching can be accomplished with drag and drop interfaces or by selecting matching items from a drop-down list. Most e-learning authoring tools provide one or both of these options. Note that the lists don’t have to have an equal number of options.
There are two ways in which these interactions can work: you can have the user make all the matches and then submit their answer as a whole, or you can deal with each match as a separate answer, rejecting the mis-matches and providing feedback. The former is better suited to a mastery test; the latter to learning by having a go.
In this case, the user places a number of items in sequence, whether that’s their logical order (ordering) or their order of importance (ranking):
- Place these steps in their correct order.
- Place these events in time sequence.
- Place these risks in order of seriousness.
- Rank these authoring tools in order of preference.
Again these interactions can be accomplished with drag and drop interfaces or by selecting numeric positions from a drop-down list. Another possibility is that the user selects an item and then uses up and down arrows to re-position that item in the list. Most e-learning authoring tools will support at least one of these.
We have one form of interaction left to review and that’s ‘exploring’.