Writing content for an online or blended course is different than lecturing in a face-to-face course. Great eLearning content doesn’t just happen—it is intentionally designed to reach the student at their moment of need. As you develop your course, keep these five tips in mind to write relevant, engaging, and useful eLearning content.
Know your audience:
Consider the learner’s needs as you write your course content. Elearning demographics are shifting. Online learners are oftentimes older than the traditional campus student. It’s likely the online student studies around a full-time job and raising a family.
How can you frame the course to include their life experiences? What information is most meaningful after graduation? Do they need to pass an outside certification exam? What insights can you share to make that process smoother?
Tell a story:
From a young age, we discover our world through story. Stories inform and inspire; we’re more likely to retain what we’ve learned if we’re engaged on a personal level.
In “Wired for Story (2012),” Lisa Cron explains:
“We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brain. It’s how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us. Simply put, the brain constantly seeks meaning from all of the input thrown at it […]” (Cron 8).
Storytelling works well with interactive scenarios. Instructional Designers use tools such as Articulate, Camtasia, and Captivate to build the scenario—all they need is your content to make them stellar!
In academic writing, we’re taught to remove the “I” (first person) to create an objective distance. Elearning content is not as formal (nor impersonal). I’m not suggesting that you write in emojis and text speech. Your tone should be authoritative yet conversational. If you address the student as “you” and use inclusive language such as “we” and “us,” he or she will see you’re authentic and relatable.
Provide relevant content:
Quality content delivers useful information to the learner. Research current ideas and trends and remove any content that doesn’t meet the student’s needs. Museums curate art pieces around a theme or topic. Your content should curate links to relevant articles, books, videos, etc.
Marketers use calls to action as milestones to guide users to an outcome. In your course content, use learning outcomes to engage students and create a meaningful learning community. Ask questions at critical points in the course. Use the Discussion Board forums to invite student interactions. Include journals and blogs as spaces for online instructors to work with each student as an individual.
Are you an Instructional Designer, eLearning subject matter expert, or online instructor? How do you provide relevant, engaging, and useful content to students? Comment below to join the conversation.
Cron, L. (2012). Wired for story: The writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.
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