The trouble with Drag and Drop is…

“I want it to be more interactive”, I hear them cry…

It is almost impossible to count how many times I have heard this statement, normally given by a willing teacher with the right intentions in mind. The trouble though is that interactivity has a very bad name!

Repeat after me…

Interactivity is not a mouse click…
Interactivity is not a mouse click…
Interactivity is not a mouse click…

Maybe a little over the top, but hopefully it gets a point across. Too many times it is assumed that by digitising the odd learning activity or by adding some pictures and video, the content will spring into life, entertain and satisfy. 9 times out of 10, it won’t.

So what then?

Interactivity, within education, should be more about how a learner engages, reacts and questions the content. Teachers have been providing this experience for longer than most of us have been around and the introduction of technology does not change this, it should merely provide new opportunities to exploit. For example, a field project and write up is interactive as it allows learners to engage and technology can further enhance this with mobile blogging, photography, field guides, augmented reality, etc…

Perhaps a more holistic approach is required, one where joined up thinking between those with the technical know how, and those with the subject expertise. It is wholly possible to produce an interactive experience, involving technology, without the need to click, drag, drop, rotate, dance, jiggle…

For this to happen though, technology needs to be just another cog in curriculum design, not an after thought or a bolt on. This would allow scenarios to be built from assignments that could provide a more engaging and interesting experience, difficult content supplemented and technology used in the most appropriate manner.

As a hypothetical example (in an attempt to illustrate this idea), imagine a forensics piece of coursework, normally delivered as a textual scenario where the learner is supposed to reason from the given facts and submit an essay. This would be a perfect opportunity to bring the scenario to life, mock up a crime scene, use video, photos, sound, interviews, provide a place to store explored information, perhaps even make it into a formal learning process resembling Cluedo! We have the expertise to do interesting things with material, but this has to be driven by ideas and produced in a collaborative manner.

I am afraid though that the transition of a labeling activity, delivered on paper, into a drag and drop exercise just isn’t going to cut it.

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