The Significance of Interactive Apps


Interactive applications are changing the face of training and education from passive to engaged learning. While lecture style/powerpoint presentations were considered industry standards at one point, research on teaching and learning and the availability of technology now more commonly influence the design of training. Engaged and thoughtful training design means that content is parsed out in digestible chunks with intentional opportunities for interaction, discussion, and low-stakes evaluations so there are no surprises to learners or the teachers at the end of the lesson time.

Interactive learning. Be it for youth or adults, research indicates that learning that engages the mind and body of the learner is more successful. Sesame Street revolutionized TV for kids in the 1970s. The Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) spent time researching how teaching and learning could be done by television. Their short segments, familiar characters, modules that were sometimes repeated, pauses for audience interaction were successful approaches to teaching. CTW has applied this same practice to interactive apps and learning on the web. Their website and applications are attractive to youth and adults, there are games that are interesting and engaging and the learning strategies have been tested and adapted. Higher education is beginning to embrace this approach. It has taken time perhaps because play feels like it is for children rather than adults. Additionally higher education is often entrenched with tradition, tenured faculty who many not be included to change, and subject matter experts focused on research rather than the practice of teaching.

Accessibility. One no longer needs to “go” to class – training via apps is accessibly anytime. When there is a long line at the grocery store – shoppers often take out their smart phone and begin to look around for something of interest. Games, apps, and learning that can be attempted in small bouts are attractive and make learning accessible to all people (with technology) anywhere. Kahn Academy has done a great job with this – topics are broken down into small lessons with tutorials and Q&A that allow users to jump in and out anytime. Kahn Academy lessons can be used to enhance the experience of a student taking a class or can be used in place of a class. There is no need to sign up, pay or even complete lessons. The a-la-carte approach offers no-pressure learning help to everyone, anytime.

Self-motivation. In the future I would anticipate that learners will be motivated to make use of applications and resources on their own in order to better themselves and their credentials. That is happening to some degree now, I would imagine that as the workforce begins to embrace self-made learners (over more traditional trainings) – more learners will grow their credentials using the tools available to them. I would also anticipate that the market will favor apps that help the learner achieve their learning objectives without a painful process – in other words games and interactive approaches will win this one.


Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray, J. H., Robb, M. B., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3-34. doi:10.1177/1529100615569721

McLean, S., Attardi, S. M., Faden, L., & Goldszmidt, M. (2016). Flipped classrooms and student learning: Not just surface gains. Advances in Physiology Education, 40(1), 47-55. doi:10.1152/advan.00098.2015

Ramakrishnan, C., & Priyadarshini, V. (2014). Online learning process – enhancing quality of management education through infusion and diffusion processes – a case study. Edulearn14: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, 1115-1123.

Revelle, G., Reardon, E., Green, M. M., Betancourt, J., & Kotler, J. (2007). The use of mobile phones to support children’s literacy learning. Persuasive Technology, 4744, 253-258.

Strommen, E. F., & Revelle, G. L. (1990). Research in interactive technologies at the children’s television workshop. Educational Technology Research and Development, 38(4), 65-80. Retrieved from


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