Next buttons are gatekeepers

If there's one area in course design that gets abused more than others, it's the Next button. Whether you’re locking, hiding, disabling, or disguising it, the next button is the gatekeeper to course content.

Learners click the Next button repeatedly to move from one slide to the next. That’s a lot of repetition that could be applied to learning rather than navigating.

Reinforcing content through repetition

Course designers know how important repetition is to learning. So do advertisers. That’s why advertisers are redesigning CAPTCHA boxes into brand reinforcement opportunities.

Instead of using CAPTCHA as a gatekeeper to verify the user is a human, marketers are leveraging CAPTCHA to reinforce brand message and recall through repetition.

Opportunities for course designers

Course designers can use apply similar strategies to assist learning recall by making the Next button memorable.

Let’s say a 30-slide course contains 30 Next buttons where each button is locked until the learner views the complete slide. That’s 30 mouse clicks to navigate from one slide to the next… Or it’s 30 opportunities for the learner to summarize or practice a slide’s key concepts.

CAPTCHA + Next button = NEXTCHA

Two types of NEXTCHA activities for e-learning

Here are two ideas for incorporating NEXTCHA activities in your online courses. Both examples leverage text entry fields to capture learner feedback.


The most popular solution that asks learners to summarize a slide or series of slides before moving on. If a learner can’t answer correctly, they’re asked to repeat the slide.

View the Post-Roll NEXTCHA example


This variation gives learners the opportunity to test out of a slide by answering the slide’s key content at the beginning.

View the Pre-Roll NEXTCHA example

Final note about using NEXTCHA in your courses

Using NEXTCHA for every slide is just as obnoxious as locking the Next button on every slide. NEXTCHA won’t make a boring course more engaging. The key is to look for meaningful ways to incorporate NEXTCHA into your course designs.

If that sounds easier said than done, then we have a great e-learning challenge this week!

Challenge of the week

This week your challenge is to build your own NEXTCHA solutions that help reinforce learning content while preventing learners from mindlessly clicking the Next buttons.

In the challenge, you don’t have to limit NEXTCHA to text entry fields, but please limit your demos to text-based interactions.


You can use Articulate Storyline, Quizmaker ‘13, or any other tool that enables text entry fields. If you only have PowerPoint, no problem! Just mockup your NEXTCHA ideas so we can understand how you’re using NEXTCHA.

Resources and templates

To help you get started, check out these free NEXTCHA templates built in Articulate Storyline:

NEXTCHA templates:

Blogs and discussions:

Technical tutorials:

Last week’s screencasts in e-learning challenge

Before embarking on your NEXTCHAllenge, check out these screencasting gems shared by your fellow community members:


The weekly challenges are ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and build your e-learning portfolios. You can jump into any or all of the previous challenges anytime you want. We’ll feature your work and provide feedback if you request it.

Hope your week is NEXCHAstic, E-Learning Heroes!

Jeff Kortenbosch
Jackie Van Nice
David Glow

Sorry I won't be able to post a sample (proprietary software at a financial org, behind a firewall and our solution is still being fully tested), but I wanted to share how we implemented this since you all inspired a nice idea. We have a very robust, yet tough-to-use Online Policy Manual maintained by the legal/compliance types. Basically an internal wiki of all the policies and archaic processes you might need in the org. HUGE. COMPLEX. And unfortunately unruly. But 100% necessary. So, we developed training to help folks navigate using different methods (different types of searches, main navigation, etc...). We have the typical learn (info), try (guided practice/sim), but for "prove you know it"- we used the NEXTCHA design. We pose a challenge for folks to find X using a certa... Expand

Geraldine Voost