Tips to Write Better eLearning
Who would have thought that simply writing an eLearning course would require the instructional designer to have so many different writing skills? As an instructional designer our writing has to motivate the learner, as well as, instruct them on correct processes, policies, techniques, etc.
In the eLearning Coach’s article 10 Types of Writing for eLearning Connie explores the 10 different writing types we must all remember when writing effective eLearning. Below is a summary of her key concepts…with a few of my own thoughts added in:
1. Writing On-Screen Text
Summary: Most readers only skim online text so keep it lively and relative to the learner. Don’t kill the learner with continuous bullet points.
Comment: True, learners don’t read all of the text. This is why it’s so important to add nice visual design to your course. You need to “draw” learners in and help them “want” to engage with your course. You should also think about chunking content.
2. Writing Audio Scripts
Summary: Find that “hook” that sparks the learner’s imagination. The sounds of words and cadence of phrases in the script is important. Be sure to choose your voice talent carefully.
Comment: You also need to find a balance between what content should be narrated and what content you should let the learner read. Also, there are many times when the learner can read faster than the audio narration. How will you handle this? Can a learner turn off the audio? Can they advance to the next section when the audio narration is still playing?
3. Writing Video Scripts
Summary: Remember that video is for showing, not telling.
Comment: Video should be used to demonstrate key concepts in the learning. Here is a sample video tutorial we have built to demonstrate how to add a Glossary to an Articulate Skin.
4. Technical Writing
Summary: Technical writing can be dull and dry…so find a way to inject creativity into your course.
Comment: Scenarios can be a great way to spice this up. Start off with a problem and then show the steps to fix it.
5. Writing Stories
Summary: Storytelling incorporates facts and concepts learned, and should contain characters that the learners can identify with.
Comment: When building a course with various stories to tie them all together. Always focus on the same characters throughout the entire course…this allows the learners to keep building on concepts already learned.
6. Writing Test Questions
Summary: All test questions must correspond to the learning objectives in the course. Give yourself enough time to write effective test questions.
Comment: Many instructional design models have you write the test question very early in your design process. The problem is that many of us build the entire course and then say “oops, I forgot to create the test.” Then we hurry and create some questions and throw them out there.
7. Writing Glossary Definitions
Summary: The 4 tips for writing glossary definitions are: 1) every word counts, 2) remove extraneous words, 3) use a consistent style for every definition, and 4) let someone else edit them.
8. Writing Interactions
Summary: Interactions can be a powerful learning tool…but they must be well written with good instructions.
9. Writing Microcopy
Summary: Microcopy is the little instructions and phrases used in eLearning and should not be an afterthought.
Comment: I like to add text to my image treatments as well. Any image can be combined with text.
Summary: Copywriting is the use of persuasive language to entice someone to take your training. Most copywriters follow the AIDA formula when writing copywrite.