It’s no surprise that eLearning developers are required to have excellent writing skills. Trying to make the text fit the content or attract reader attention requires a degree of self-consciousness. While using proper grammar is mandatory, it’s not the only thing you one needs to pay attention to. Current eLearning programs are often blamed for fluffy writing. It seems like writing for eLearning should be taught as a short tutorial to eLearning development teams. The main challenge as a writer in eLearning courses is to write consistent content. So how do you establish that?
Consistent content naturally must contain consistent writing, which in turn comes through regular practice. It is also achieved by being conscious of your writing and checking for comprehensiveness and conciseness. As eLearning content grows or changes, managing writing is critical to achieving a uniform look and feel of the course.
While most of us know the chunking rule and the explicit downsizing rule of large content into smaller units, we also need to apply these 6 rules of consistency in different aspects of writing:
1. Consistent Tone:
Writing styles vary from business-like to trendy and “net speak”. Business writing uses a lot of jargon and acronyms, and also sounds formal and to the point. Trendy writing is usually the “what’s hot and what’s not” type of writing, including popular catchphrases and slang.
Whatever tone you decide to use, make sure it is consistent throughout the course. The references, glossary and other special sections have their own tone, so no need to worry about them. The best way to determine your eLearning course tone is to analyze your target learners. As a rule of thumb, use a mix of trendy and business styles while keeping the vocabulary simple and easy to follow. Being mindful of your style will enable you to deliver consistent content for your eLearning courses.
2. Consistent Knowledge Level:
Are your learners first-time users of this information? Are they arriving to your course as a next level of information? Determine their competency level and introduce concepts accordingly. Getting the user-competency analysis wrong results in experienced learners feeling patronized and novice learners feeling confused.
Best practices in eLearning knowledge consistency teach us to keep the knowledge level median. Highlight terms that need additional explanation with examples and make this information available as links to other pages or as a tool tip. If the information is needed, it will be explored.
3. Consistent Directions:
If your eLearners are novice to eLearning, you will need to provide directions on how they can utilize the learning materials, how to navigate and how to make use of the course interactivity. Create consistent directions throughout the course so that the learner knows what to expect. Consider these examples, choose one style of directions and stick to it:
You can click on the button to move to the other message
I will show you a new message when you click on the button
Clicking on the button will show you a new message
4. Consistent Pronouns:
Pronouns are words such as I, you, they, we, etc. If the learner is gathering information in a reservoir to solve a case, will the label of this reservoir say “My Data” or “Your Data”? Or when you explain a product to the marketing team in the eLearning course, do you say:
We are the world leaders in our field
They are the world leaders in their field
Siblou are the world leaders in their field
Be consistent in your pronouns throughout your eLearning course to prevent any confusion.
5. Consistent Titles:
All buttons, links, tool-tip information and other instructions need to be standardized in your eLearning course. Create titles for your content that follow predictable naming conventions. Likewise, standardize your content typography for titles, subtitles and paragraphs, to help each element stand out.
6. Consistent Capitalization:
Large volumes of content only make sense if they are divided into first-level headings, second-level headings, diagram captions etc. Again, create a standard for your eLearning course and share it with your eLearning team. To be honest, it does not really matter what capitalization style you use, as long as you are consistent with it throughout the eLearning courses.
Achieving consistency in writing requires planning and being aware of how you write. Define the parameters of all the aforementioned writing elements before you begin the course development process. Consistent content creates efficient and clearer learning platforms, that lead to greater engagement and ultimately transfer to context.