Interactive PDFs in eLearning: When, Why, and How to Use Them

interactive PDFs in eLearning

What Are Interactive PDFs in eLearning? 

Most people think of PDFs as static, no-frills text documents. However, when combined with interactive components, PDFs can be used as an effective eLearning tool. Many companies have begun taking advantage of PDFs for employee training, increasing interactivity with elements such as:

  • Click-to-reveal
  • Dropdowns
  • Buttons
  • Hover effects
  • Hyperlinks
  • Embedded audio files
  • Embedded videos
  • Animations

The interactive combinations are nearly endless, and they can be optimized to fit your specific learning audience and business needs.

interactive PDFs in eLearning

Why Use Interactive PDFs in eLearning?

Interactive PDFs can be a game-changing tool for your company’s training program. Consider these three major benefits interactive PDFs can have on your employee training:

1. Engaging

By nature, the human brain is drawn to interactive stimuli. In fact, in a report by Content Marketing Institute, 81% of respondents said that interactive content grabbed their attention more than static content. By incorporating interactive visual and auditory elements, you offer employees more sensory stimulation than they would ever get from plain PDF text. In addition, designers can easily chunk PDFs into meaningful sections that help boost long-term retention and understanding.

2. Convenient

With an interactive PDF, companies can easily condense important information into just a few pages or less. This helps employees focus more on key concepts and avoid being overwhelmed by too much information. In addition, interactive PDFs are easy to navigate with intuitive buttons and links that quickly take you where you need to go. Lastly, with interactive PDFs, your employees aren’t bound to a specific LMS or even WiFi. Workers can easily access interactive PDFs on a desktop or mobile device, with or without Internet.

3. Cost-Effective

Interactive PDFs are much shorter and simpler than traditional training, making them one of the most affordable types of eLearning. For companies on a budget and in need of low-cost, high-impact training, interactive PDFs are the way to go. Additionally, companies can use interactive PDFs to enrich and refresh their existing training program on the cheap. No matter the circumstances, commissioning interactive PDFs is a low-stakes investment with high returns.

When to Use Interactive PDFs in eLearning?

There are many circumstances where a company might want to incorporate interactive PDFs. Here are a few situations where interactive PDFs are particularly useful:

  • As part of a new training program, enriching and diversifying the traditional eLearning experience
  • As a supplement to refresh an existing training program that’s grown stale
  • As a resource employees can reference after their initial training
  • As part of a rapid eLearning effort where you need to communicate important information quickly
  • As a knowledge/awareness booster where there’s no need for a skill check

Whether as a stand-alone or part of a larger training program or both, interactive PDFs are a useful tool at essentially every level of the learning process. 

interactive PDFs in eLearning

How to Best Use Interactive PDFs in eLearning

Simply incorporating interactive PDFs in your eLearning won’t solve all of your training problems. You need to use them the right way to maximize effectiveness and training ROI. For best results, follow these four steps during your interactive PDF development.

1. Determine Your Purpose

The most effective eLearning PDFs are built with a goal in mind. Before jumping right into building your interactive PDF, you need to determine your purpose for creating it. Is it to build awareness around a topic or event? Is it to supplement training? To help shape your purpose, consider your intended recipients and how this infographics will be helpful to them. Ultimately, your purpose and audience will determine how you structure your PDF and what interactive elements you include. 

2. Get the Right Tools

Those with the time and expertise can use tools like Adobe to develop their own interactive PDFs. However, those without graphics or instructional design know-how might be better off in the hands of an experienced learning consultant. A learning consultant takes a holistic view of your business needs and goals and tailors your training accordingly. Some learning consultant teams also have graphic design capabilities, and can craft your interactive PDF from start to finish.

3. Plan Your Interactive Elements

While it can be tempting to go a little crazy with the GIFs, remember that every interactive element on your PDF should have a defined purpose. Too much, and you bombard the reader with more visual and auditory information than they can process. When planning your PDF, choose interactive elements that are useful and enhance the learning experience. For example, including an audio recording of your PDF text is a strategic way to boost interactivity and provide an additional mode of learning. 

4. Tie In Other Materials

Interactive PDFs in eLearning work best when they’re short and sweet. Rather than overloading the reader with too much content, take advantage of internal links to provide additional information. These hyperlinks can also connect users to a network of other training materials, such as infographics, eLearning courses, microlearning, and more. As a result, your interactive PDF will stay focused, but still give users the option to learn more.

Develop Your Interactive PDF eLearning Today

Does your company need a handy resource for its next compliance initiative? Or perhaps a supplement to spice up some outdated training? Whether as a stand-alone or part of a larger training program, interactive PDFs have incredible potential as a training tool. The best way to get started is by mapping out your company’s training needs. Where are the gaps? What areas are in need of improvement? What training will your company need in the future? Using this outline, you’ll be able to see where one or more interactive PDFs will have the most benefit.

Prefer to talk through your training goals with training and eLearning experts first? Get in touch or check out our arsenal of custom learning solutions.

By Lauren Prodouz
| August 1, 2022
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