Published on March 19, 2014
Writing better elearning scripts. by Cammy Bean VP of Learning Design, Kineo US Published at Learning Solutions 2014
It was a dark and stormy night.
Across town a subject matter expert handed off a 62 slide deck to an instructional designer.
Suddenly, a shot rang out…
In a dark alley, a woman screamed as she stumbled on this elearning module.
The people wept in despair.
How can we write better programs to stop this horror?
Sharpen your quills as we share some top tips for writing better elearning scripts.
1. Keep it light.
Aim for short and snappy. Less of… “This e-learning module is designed to explain the principles and practical requirements of the 11 step process …” More of… “Need to get your head around our process? You’re in the right place.”
Make it a little fun.
(Comic books are fun.)
Joseph Conrad A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.
2. Make it human.
Talk to me, baby. Less of… “Negotiating effectively is an important skill that we all use on a daily basis” More of… “When was the last time you negotiated something? Maybe it was more recently than you think….”
It’s all about you. Make it personal.
Have a conversation with people.
Connect the content back to people.
Object to learning objectives. As a result of attending this session you will be able to: •Identify three case studies of Fortune 1000 companies who are successfully using social learning models •Define the three models of social learning and how these map to specific strategies and tools •Evaluate the pro's and con's of different social interventions as solutions to specific kinds of learning challenges •Describe their own personal experience in using social media as a practitioner As a result of attending this session you will be able to: •Identify three case studies of Fortune 1000 companies who are successfully using social learning models •Define the three models of social learning and how these map to specific strategies and tools •Evaluate the pro's and con's of different social interventions as solutions to specific kinds of learning challenges •Describe their own personal experience in using social media as a practitioner Real people don’t talk like this.
You can still tell them where they’re going.
So how can we make this better? List the characteristics of humans that we need to be aware of when designing ships. List the characteristics of humans that we need to be aware of when designing ships.
What about this one? Define the three main potential risks of not having an ITAM program in place. Define the three main potential risks of not having an ITAM program in place.
Is there hope for this one? Define the three models of social learning and how these map to specific strategies and tools. Define the three models of social learning and how these map to specific strategies and tools.
Read it out loud. Would you want to listen?
Inject humanity. Let real people talk.
Somerset Maugham If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
3. Tell great stories.
Hook them with a gripping tale.
Put all the content in context—try a guided story instead of an info dump.
Win them with gossip.
Grab their attention with tales of risk and intrigue.
Alice Munro Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
So how do you find the right stories? Ask the right questions. Where do people get this wrong? Where do people get this wrong? What do you want people to DO? What do you want people to DO? What mistakes do people make? What mistakes do people make? Where can people get more information and help? Where can people get more information and help? What are the three key takeaways? What are the three key takeaways? What stories can you tell me? What stories can you tell me?
Ask your experts to think out loud. Get them narrate their work and walk you through the process.
Have them tell you a story. The story about their slide deck. (It’s often whats NOT written on the slide that really matters!)
Use the words they say, not the words they write. It helps if you type really fast or can record the conversation!
4. Give it spirit.
Activate your writing. This? Or this? “The fabulous script was written by you.” “You wrote this fabulous script.” “The process briefing document is used to define our core requirements.” “The process briefing document defines our core requirements.” “Now that you have covered the basics of customer service, in the next section you will learn how to deal with customer issues.” “You’re one step away from maximizing your skills, but there’s a problem—a customer one in fact. Click ‘next’ to put your skills to the test.”
Rainer Maria Rilke May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.
5. Make it flow.
Stitch your ideas together, connect the dots, make sure the story flows from one piece to the next.
Henry David Thoreau Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
6. Cut it.
Cut the blather and focus on the doing.
Skip the fancy words and the jargon.
Keep it simple.
Link to policies. Don’t replicate them.
Cut the information, focus on the doing.
E.B. White No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.
7. Don’t patronize. Oops. Do you feel patronized now?
Do you like being told what to do? “By now you have learned…” “You must do…” “This will take 90 minutes.” “To advance to the next screen click the ‘next’ button in the bottom right corner of your screen.”
Let people know what to expect and give them choices. They’re grown- ups, right?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.
8. Write the never-ending story.
Take the action into the real world.
Get them talking (and writing) to each other. What did you think? What did you think? How did you do it? How did you do it? Here’s what I did that really worked. Here’s what I did that really worked. Here’s what I did that really didn’t work. Here’s what I did that really didn’t work.
Leave people with a clear call to action.
Repeat after me. Keep it light. Make it human. Tell great stories. Give it spirit (or “spirt”, even!). Make it flow. Cut it. Don’t patronize. Write the never-ending story.
Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast) I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’
Hey, look. I wrote a book! May 2014!
Write home. firstname.lastname@example.org www.kineo.com Twitter: @cammybean Blog: cammybean.kineo.com
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