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I don’t remember how I came across this Google book preview but it has been an interesting read.
eLearning and the Science of Instruction (Ruth Colvin Clark, Richard E. Mayer)

Chapter 8 of the book has some great points that I’d like to share, “Applying the Personalization Principle” (page 160).

Ways to Personalize eLearning

1. Conversational Tone
As eLearning designers have learned over the years that learners want to feel connected to the training. We need to personalize the content. One way to do this is to use conversational text/narration instead of formal. Conversational tone would use “I, we, me, you, my…”.

Clark and Mayer state, “Based on cognitive theory and research evidence, we recommend that you create elearning courses that include some spoken or printed text that is conversational rather than formal.” There is also reference to a research project (see image below) that compared the knowledge transfer of two groups of students who read a formal or informal introduction. The image below shows you what they read and could give some pointers on how to use conversational writing. By the way…the students who read the informal text did better every time.

2. Voice Quality
People learn better if narration is a human voice rather than sounding like a computer. I’m sure that we can all agree that listening to a computer voice for an entire course would be terrible.

3. Polite Speech
Learners are sensitive to the politeness tone of statements. For example you could say, “Click the NEXT button.” or a more polite way (and a way to involve the learner) would be to say “You may want to click the NEXT button.” or ” Let’s click the NEXT button.”. This make the learner part of the course and doesn’t tell them what to do.

4. On Screen Coaches and Agents
So is it worth the time and money to create an on-screen agent? According the research cited in the book the answer is Yes. It seems that agents done in the right way can have very positive results. Suggestions are to:

  • Have the agent’s words narrated not written out
  • Use conversational words
  • Use a human voice

5. Make the Author Visible
A visible author style can promote deeper engagement from the learners. A visible author shares a few things about themselves and may write in the 3rd person.

Thanks to Ruth and Richard for the good read. What else should we be doing to personalize our courses?

Additional Resources:
Conversational Tone in eLearning
Using Image and Audio in eLearning
Stop Using Narration in eLearning

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