Monthly Archives: March 2011

All the world’s a stage

And all the men and women merely players

Have you ever struggled with writing engaging elearning? All too often the detached self study tutorials are full of what Cathy Moore calls ‘corporate drone‘ and because we have become used to writing what we think the organisation wants, we can find it tricky to look beyond the business gobbledygook and write what our learners need to hear/read.

Now there are lots of things we can do to help our elearning become more engaging but the one important thing that’s often missing is the human touch. Somehow when writing for these self study tutorials we forget there is a human being on the other end of the computer. We write business-speak – formal. The last thing to help people feel at ease is formality.

When I was young and being taught English Grammar in school, all my essays had to be grammatically correct. I was taught never to shorten words. I was told always to write ‘it is’ not ‘it’s’ or ‘cannot’ not ‘can’t’. This may still be the case if you’re writing novels. It’s difficult to unlearn these things (and if my Father ever read what I write these days, he’d be appalled).

Here’s my advice…. “imagine you are sitting right next to the person. What would you actually say to them?”. Because the thing is, even though the tutorial may reach hundreds or thousands of people, there’s only one person sitting on the other end of that PC. It’s an intimate experience. You are talking only to them not the masses. You are connecting only with that one person. Allow them to feel you really exist as a human being not a corporate clone.

I like to think that writing for elearning tutorials is a little like writing a stage play script or a movie script. Write the conversations you will have with that individual. If creating scenarios, write the script for the scene and create realistic characters to ‘speak’ and ‘act’ out the conversations and emotions. Use natural language. Use visuals to depict emotion or thought bubbles to allow us to understand what the character might be thinking. Avoid all those lovely descriptive adjectives we would see in great novels we’re not writing novels, we’re writing scenes so learners can imagine themselves right there.

Make their online learning experience just that – an experience. And one to remember.