6 Tools for Creating Interactive Educational Materials
Chances are, if you’re a non-profit, you have information to share. Perhaps you’re an advocacy group that works on policy issues and you want to provide information about upcoming bills, petitions, rallies, or candidates. Or perhaps you’re a disease-specific foundation that wants to share information on how to live well with a chronic illness.
Whatever your mission, there are now free interactive tools to help you build engaging educational experiences for your constituency and donors. Why bother to create online interactive educational experiences? Interactivity engages people with your mission and message, while educational content actually helps you to fulfill that mission. Of course, online interactivity is great for kids, so it’s an ideal choice for educational groups. But it’s also a great way to get adults thinking hard, learning, and making good choices.
Here are a few possibilities to consider as you start to create. Your choice of tool will depend, to a large degree, upon your specific goals, the ages of your constituents, and the complexity of your message or messages.
1. Polls, Quizzes and Surveys
The very simplest way to engage anyone is to ask them a question about an issue that interests them. Then, provide an answer. Polls may seem like a simple device, but appropriately used they can surprise, involve, and even motivate. Surveys, similarly, allow people to think through their preferences or concerns, and then see how they stack up to others in similar situations. Once you’ve created a poll or survey, you can provide follow up links or opportunities to users. For example, if quiz results suggest that a user is suffering from a particular physical problem (obesity, diabetes, etc.), links to further information at the end of the quiz can inspire action. Quibblo and Survey Monkey are a free online program that allows you to prepare a wide range of fun, serious, or informational quizzes, polls, surveys and more – and makes it possible to provide results visually.
2. Slideshows & Videos
Slideshare is simply a tool for turning your PowerPoint presentations into online slide shows, so that your stakeholders can take a look at the presentations you’ve been sharing with board members, or so that they can see an interactive presentation describing your work and its outcomes. YouTube, of course, is an online location where you can create your own “channel” and publish your own videos. YouTube has become a popular destination, so if you’re looking to find new stakeholders, it’s in your best interest to create a YouTube presence.
Webinars are virtual get-togethers during which attendees are able to see whatever is on the meeting leader’s computer screen while the meeting leader talks about the visuals he or she is presenting. This is a “real time” tool, useful if you are calling together a group of people who are in different locations and need to share information, discuss ideas, or learn together. It’s a great way to train volunteers, teach a short class, or simply present your case. Try join.me, Webex, or yuuguu.
4. Interactive Timelines
You want to acquaint your stakeholders with your organizational history, or the history of a person, cause, art form, or event. You could write a long article or, better yet, you could create an interactive timeline, complete with images and videos, to tell your story. Timeglider is one of several free websites where you can build and then publish interactive timelines that offer much more than a static brochure or web page.
5. Multimedia Storytelling
Your non-profit runs charitable projects in nations around the world. You’re a local dance company that reaches out to disadvantaged youngsters with free dance programs. You ran a unique program for teens that resulted in outstanding grades. In each of these cases, you have a story to tell. Interactive multimedia can help you tell that story in words and pictures, while also allowing users to explore your programs, opportunities, or fundraising activities in more detail.
6. Interactive Comic Strips
If your message is relatively light hearted (nutrition or fitness, for example, as opposed to drunk driving or bereavement), or your target audience is young, you might want to try out one of several tools to create interactive comic strip stories. Interactive comic strips like those you can create with GoAnimate! include not just pictures and words but also motion, sound effects, and a huge range of art assets.
Once you start playing with these tools, carefully monitor your stakeholders’ response. Some people will love it. Others may find it distracting or confusing. Little by little, though, the magic of the Internet will win them over!