Unfortunately, it still comes a surprise to many online training content developers–and often too late–that in writing material for a learning management system course, less is more. This general rule of thumb applies particularly to the writing voice and creating readable and engaging content through concise and simple language.
Of course, when creating online training material, there are many choices to be made. You’ll decide about everything from navigation to graphics, visual and audio media, to a tone of voice in your writing. Pay special attention to your writing style. A powerful or weak writing style can make or break an online course.
Good courseware is based on an author’s personal experience and subject matter expertise. And since there are an infinite number of subjects out there–not to mention the many kinds of learning styles and pedagogical methods–it follows that an appropriate writing style will vary depending on the content.
Regardless of this fact, many courseware developers still have not discovered their authorial power in regards to the writing voice. The trend in e-learning content writing has followed a “voiceless writing” model, in which students are provided with a formal tone and text without style or affect. The traditionally preferred writing style does away with any trace of an author’s voice or personality.
However, a burgeoning community of e-learning developers are creating content with more voiced writing. Particularly in an e-learning context, studies suggest that students respond with more interest to a voice with personality, in contrast to a formal and impersonal tone.
It’s true that in some cases, a bland tone is simply unavoidable–and that’s OK. But to create content with that blandness as the ideal isn’t wise. And too often, course creators fall into the trap of intentionally creating difficult-to-read content in order to impress learners, or so that students will have greater respect for the content. This is a bad idea.
What’s the best solution? Clear, concise, and relevant content.
Once you’ve prepared your course content and infused it with an interesting writing style and your own enthusiasm and passion for the subject, next comes the revision process. This is a major aspect of keeping your course writing concise and clear. Put your course through what writers call “deep revision.” Look over your course and ensure that no sections, paragraphs, graphics, etc. look clunky, out of place, dull, or extraneous. Just as you used your powerful writing voice, use your authorial power to scrap whole pieces that don’t seem to fit. Any unnecessary piece must go.
Especially in online training courses, learners require content to be to-the-point, engaging, and one hundred percent relevant to what learners will need to perform tasks later on. These may be new skills, company policies, or any other critical information.
Just remember: voiceless writing in an online course is worse than a live but bland and boring lecture. E-learning strives to be better than that. When developing content for a learning management system, keep your writing clear and concise, but most importantly, your own.
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