Create Your Own Online Course - 10

, , | Colin Dawson

Writing for eLearning

Does writing training copy feel hard? Does it feel like you are trapped by a set of rules? I get that.

When I first started writing for eLearning, I struggled with that too. I’d read the books and felt I couldn’t conform to complex ideas, like Bloom’s Taxonomy.

But over the years I’ve learned that writing for learning is like having a friendly conversation. Shall I show you?

What I want to share are some conversational writing techniques. When used in moderation, these techniques can help turn your writing into a pleasant conversation with your learner.

Here’s how . . .

  1. Using Questions
    I really enjoy incorporating questions into my writing. They are a way to make your learner part of the conversation. I write all my eLearning as if I am addressing one person, here’s an example from one of my Modlettes.
    “Do you ever feel that trepidation when you are asked to call a client who owes money overdue? Do you put off the call?”

Addressing learners with a question helps establish a quick connection, making each learner feel like you’re writing to them personally. A question feels less school-like and more conversational.

Be careful. Don’t overdo this technique. Too many questions can slow learners down as each question makes them pause briefly to consider an answer. Also try and calibrate your questions. Being overly jovial can sound insincere and become irritating.

When you’ve written your learning text, leave it for a day, and then read it aloud. Does it sound like you are having a conversation with one person? Does the tone of your writing feel natural? Or does it sound like a lecture?

  1. Use Everyday Transitions
    Use a lot of everyday transitions and interjections to make your writing more conversational.

Both the choice and frequency of transitional phrases tend to make writing more conversational. In a conversation, you can also use words such as well, more and anyhow a lot.

Transitions often act as seeds of curiosity, encouraging learners to read on. Check out these examples:
“Now, here’s a fact that might surprise you”
“Here is something you will want to remember.”

I recommend using this technique in moderation. When you use a particular technique too often, a learner starts noticing the technique instead of the message it’s trying to convey.

As before, test copy by reading aloud. If it sounds uncomfortable, then you’re either overloading the information or over-using these techniques. Try editing so it sounds more natural.

Compare these techniques with some of the stilted copy that some eLearning writers use. Which do you think is more engaging for YOUR learners?

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