11 Writing for eLearning

When writing material for the Internet, avoid long blocks of text. Break material into logical chunks of no more than two to three screens worth of information, using ample content-specific headings and subheadings as cues for the content, and keep paragraphs short. Experienced eLearning course instructors recommend that you develop lesson discussion questions and activities, or relevant group activities, at the same time you are creating lesson materials. Having lesson goals and content fresh in your mind coordinates these interactive experiences.

When developing eLearning course materials, keep in mind that to reduce student confusion and questions that may arise without face-to-face contact, it is important to develop specific, self-explanatory materials. You will not have the opportunity to self-correct or explain confusing points when students access material outside the classroom setting.

Make writing your own

As you begin developing content, avoid outlining or summarizing textbook material. Assert your presence and personality. As an experienced content expert, you add richness with personal experiences, observations, and other real-world examples. As you write, consider these tips:

  • Use real-life examples, stories, problems and solutions, case studies, striking facts, or quotations to challenge students and spur interest
  • Use simple language students understand and find approachable
  • Treat materials as a one-on-one conversation, addressing the student as “you”

Commentary or Lecture Material

This section relates to the body of information within the lesson itself. We recommend writing content in sentence format, with headings and subheadings to guide the reader. We also recommend using the second person pronoun “you” within the instruction so readers feel the material is personalized. The instruction section is an opportunity to accomplish any or all of the following:

  • Expand areas not discussed in the text
  • Explain or illustrate difficult concepts
  • Interpret textbook or other printed materials
  • Work typical exam problems not addressed by the text
  • Present contrasting viewpoints
  • Anticipate questions students may raise

Remember also to list corresponding or optional books, journal articles, and Internet readings including book chapters, page numbers, or Internet addresses.

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Guide to Teaching with Technology by Centre for Pedagogical Innovation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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