Writing Strategies for e-Learning

Writing is a difficult process, per se! It is not easy to be confronted by an empty space (or screen) trying to find your tempo and rhythm while you have run out of ideas! But it is more difficult when you’re writing for e-Learning purposes. In e-learning and instructional design, you should be prompt, exact and on the point! You also need to write in a way that would lure your trainees in a story that aims to change their behavior and attitude towards certain situations and events!

Writing Strategies for e-Learning

When you write for e-learning purposes you need to be: punctual, focused, personal, emotional, prompt, accurate, precise, brief, etc. In short, you need to communicate with consistency and clarity!

In order to do that in an easy way, you need ideas, a plan and a good story that will introduce your trainees in a world full of capabilities (and possibilities).

Tell Me A Story!

When you write for e-learning you develop a story with many branches. Each branch should lead the user to a new level of skill or/and knowledge you want him/her to reach!

You gradually build a ladder for your trainees and (if you have done your job right!) you develop with them the right tools for each one to “learn” to use them in an intended manner!

In this process, a story makes a lot of difference because it wrap-ups the message, to content, the goals, and the provided approaches to a unique coherent and easily understood framework!

A Plan Of Attack

In e-learning, you don’t just write good stories. You write meaningfully, and personal stories for each and every one of the participants.

To do that, you need a framework of reference and a set of goals/objectives that will lead you to on how you going to design the learning experience for every participant!

To construct such an endeavor you will need well documented and internationally practiced approaches and models, appropriate tools, templates, GOALs, and systems.

Writing Strategies for e-Learning

  1. Analyze the needs and requirements of your audience
  2. Research the topics need to be explored
  3. Develop ideas and approaches you may use effectively in the specified content and context
  4. Organize your material (notes, outlines, etc.) in a logical way and according to your main objectives (i.e. course’s objectives)
  5. “Compress”, simplify and re-write your original material in a series of sets that each set would include goals – (instructional/pedagogical) approachkey content to support the goalssupport material or/and resources (if needed)
  6. Develop appropriate aggregators and metrics for the learner to proceed in (self) reviewing and in evaluating his/her progress of his/her learning (like summaries, key points, self-evaluation tests, etc) and, if needed, for the organization to evaluate the process of the overall learning (like performance indicators, skill/knowledge acquirement, organizations’ assessment indexes (if required), etc.)
  7. Write the main instructional goals and an outline that would reflect your original thoughts on the topics to be covered in relation to the trainees and their training requirements you try to cover
  8. Develop learning units/modules (including objectives, summary, learning paths and means for each unit – in an outline form)
  9. Check your structure and sequence to see the proper construction of knowledge/skill against the intended objectives
  10. Use simple terms, remove jargon and use, when it is needed, iconic elements, to emphasize some points and provide clarity!
  11. Develop a storyboard, that will include all the above elements and items. Try to be personal and write in a way that can be appealing to different learning styles (check the VARK model). When it is possible, use copywriting techniques (like AIDA) to provide relevance, authenticity, rhythm, interest and accuracy to your writing! Use personal tone, a constant rhythm, self-explanatory headlines, short paragraphs, power phrases and verbs, etc.
  12. Verify your approach and test it against real situations (share it with some friends and challenge them to find the gaps in logic, flow, grammar, spelling, etc)
  13. Review your writing and correct or delete the items are not pertinent, the passages need correction, etc.
  14. Fill in the blanks with more details, information, etc (if needed)
  15. Provide specific slots for multimedia elements, and predict the extra information and clarity they will provide to your writing
  16. Check each unit against its intended goals and re-write content if needed according to what purpose it serves
  17. Review your approach and fine-tune your content and approach in order to make it as relevant as possible in relation to its goals!

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    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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