Interactions decoded

A few weeks ago, some of us at Saffron went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see Decode: Digital Design Sensations, a digital design exhibition. We had a brilliant afternoon and saw some inspiring pieces created on the themes of decode, network and interactivity.

The most popular exhibit seemed to be Ross Phillips’s Videogrid, an interactive piece featuring a grid of videos made by visitors who record a short video of themselves behind a nearby screen. Videogrid is interactive and fun, and as a result, people were engaged and enjoyed the experience. Perhaps most importantly the exhibit is memorable, showing that interactivity is key to engaging us – and our learners – and helping us to remember the experience.

Other interactive exhibits which drew a crowd included YOKE’s Dandelion, where the viewer can blow the seeds off a huge image of a dandelion using a light gun, and Mahmet Akten’s Body Paint, where the viewer throws splashes of paint onto a screen using their body. Another somewhat different exhibit that proved popular was Fabrica’s Venetian Mirror. This piece features a ghostly mirror which the viewer must stand in front of for around a minute before their reflection begins to appear gradually.

I was a bit surprised that the mirror attracted so many people when they were surrounded by lots of visually exciting pieces of work. I put this down to the fact that the piece stands out because it doesn’t feature technological feats which deliver instant gratification for the viewer, or at least not in the same way as the other interactions. However, I also think that people were drawn to the mirror because it allowed for a moment of reflection during a packed fast paced exhibition. Bringing this back to our approach to e-learning, this aspect of the exhibit might be compared to review questions that can be included intermittently throughout our courses.

So while innovative interactions and the use of new technologies are key to engaging learners and ensuring they will remember what they have learnt, it’s also important to encourage the learner to pause and reflect during courses. In this way the learner will remain engaged and enjoy the interactive elements of an e-learning course, but will also think independently about the key learning objectives, ensuring that these stand out and are remembered.