Interactive PDFs

Most people think of a PDF as simply an uneditable electronic copy of a document that was intended for paper. 

However, it’s also possible to add interactive elements to PDFs. This creates opportunities to significantly enhance the reading experience on an electronic device. This format can be a very attractive option for creating learning materials, particularly if you have a blended learning approach*.

What is an Interactive PDF?

At GuyKat, we use the term Interactive PDFs for documents that have been optimised for viewing on-screen rather than printing. As the name suggests, there will be interactive elements.

What are the common features of an Interactive PDF?

Features that can be added to Interactive PDFs that would not work for printed documents or documents intended for printing can include:

  • Animated GIFs
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Forms
  • Bookmarks
  • Buttons
  • Page translations

What advantages do clients see in Interactive PDFs?

Documents with only basic reading experience are dull! Interactivity brings fun and engagement to eLearning, allowing to display exciting and innovative content to motivate the learner and create a more inviting experience.

Hyperlinks in particular allow an enriched learning experience without having to keep a large amount of content within the course itself. Learners can visit other websites or materials at the click of a hyperlink.

Buttons allow you to navigate easily from page to page, trigger an action that could be anything from playing media to answering a question, hover for interaction or allow other information to pop-up. 

One of the biggest advantages of interactive PDFs is that they allow offline learners to easily use all of or part of their content. 

Interactive PDFs are simple and easy to create and use, relatively inexpensive and easy to view. Distribution of this type of eLearning via email, transfer, share or embedding inside an eLearning module is effective and easy too!

What are the limitations of Interactive PDFs?

PDFs can be enhanced with interactions, however, most of them work best if kept simple. If you require truly interactive eLearning, there are tools like RISE and Storyline which are better suited to the job. Of course, an Interactive PDF may sit nicely within a module created using either of these tools.

Interactive PDFs and other non SCORM files are difficult to track, which results in failing to measure the effectiveness of the training. If you need to understand how your learners interact with the presented material, we’d recommend choosing an alternative to an Interactive PDF.

*What is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is when you deliver a learning program through a mix of eLearning and traditional classroom learning.

Who should choose an Interactive PDF for their Blended learning?

  • Anyone who needs to add further content to supplement and enrich a blended learning experience. 
  • If you need to share additional content without cluttering your eLearning module, then an Interactive PDF is an ideal option. 
  • If you need learners to build knowledge but not test their skill/competence level or track their knowledge.  
  • When learners are required to download and store information for their records or fill out a form to back-up their online learning.
  • Use to create an offline version of an online course for users who don’t have internet access.

Final thoughts

At GuyKat, we often encourage using a blended learning approach. If you are wanting to create supporting materials as part of your learning experience, then Interactive PDFs can be a powerful tool.

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