Know your audience
Before you can answer the question of how to write an e-learning course, ask yourself who you’re writing for. What is their existing level of knowledge on the subject matter? Answering this question can help you write with a clear goal in mind and avoid irrelevant tangents.
Put key information at the top
No matter how engaging your course is, your reader’s attention will diminish over time. Attention spans online are simply shorter. That’s why it’s important to position the most necessary information at the start of your course. You can mention minor details last.
Write in short simple sentences
Break complex ideas up into short sentences, and use words that almost anyone can understand. This makes it easier for learners to digest new information and keep up with your course. We recommend sticking to short sentences of 20 words maximum. Here’s a cheat sheet with the ideal writing parameters.
Create content that is easy for your target audience to find
Your learners need to be able to find your course in their Learning Management System (LMS). That’s why you should include relevant keywords in your content to make your course more searchable.
Consider what questions your learners likely have about the topic and then frame your content accordingly.
Use the active voice
When writing for e-learning, you should primarily apply an active voice — not a passive voice. In an active voice, the subject of the sentence performs its verb and not the other way around. This type of writing presents your points clearly and with confidence.
For example, consider the differences between the following sentences:
- Active: The site foreman performs the safety check.
- Passive: The safety check is performed by the site foreman.
The active sentence shines a light on the subject – the foreman – taking action. The passive sentence highlights the action – the safety check. This pushes the subject into the background.
Using an active voice will allow you to write about your subject matter more authoritatively. In return, your confidence will provide your learners with a reliable learning experience.
Use images and video if possible
Images can illustrate complex ideas in a quick and engaging way. Similarly, videos combine visual and audio elements to deliver a multisensory learning experience. Including a mix of media can help your learner to engage with the e-learning content, but only if it is relevant. This e-book describes how to use video and images effectively.
Always have your course reviewed before you publish it
Even the best authors who already know how to write an e-learning course benefit from proofreading. We recommend having at least one other person look over your content. While you may have reviewed your material multiple times, it helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at your work objectively. Each reviewer offers a unique perspective to help catch errors you may have missed.
Want more useful tips for e-learning? Check out our blog post on e-learning best practices.