5 essential writing tips for powerful e‑Learning


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Written by Indyra Olivier

Customer Success Coach

More and more companies and organizations discovered the convenience of e-Learning and are making abundant use of it. It is an easy way to offer training independent of time and place. Digital training also ensures that talents within the organization can develop further and it stimulates loyalty. Have a look at how you can keep optimizing your e-learning with our writing tips.

There are already many possibilities and tools that can help you build e-Learning. Whether you choose a simple PowerPoint, or a comprehensive e-Learning tool and video, the basis of any training is the copy. That’s why we’re sharing…

5 tips to make your copy more powerful:

  1. Write actively
  2. Address the reader directly
  3. Stimulate curiosity with question phrases
  4. KISS: Keep It Short and Simple
  5. Make the page scannable
  6. Keep it short and to the point
  7. Focus on what’s important
  8. Review early and often
  9. Interactivity through questions and feedback
  10. Use real-world scenario’s, stories and examples

Tip 1: Write actively

Stay to the point in your texts and write actively. Try to avoid auxiliary verbs: be, have, become, can, will, try. They create passive sentences. This takes the momentum out of the text, making the message less clear.

For example:
“If you want to start a module, click on the start button below”.  

This could be more active, such as:
“Click on the start button to start a module.”    

Pro tip: Use a high-quality spelling checker, which also scans your text for passive sentence construction. This way, you can be sure that your texts are active and you have a double check on all spelling. Win-win.

Tip 2: Address the reader directly

Address the participant. It’s not about what you want to say, but what the reader wants to know. Address the participant with you or your, this way participants feel addressed and you stimulate involvement.

For example:
“At FLOWSPARKS, we think it is important that the experts themselves can build a didactically sound module”. 

This is mainly focused on what we want to say. It is better to focus the text on the participant:
“As an expert, you probably have a lot of knowledge that you want to convey in an impactful way. That is possible with the didactically supported templates from FLOWSPARKS”

Tip 3: Trigger curiosity with question phrases

Did you know questioning sentences attract the reader’s attention? A question activates the brain and makes the reader curious, the ideal way to encourage them to read on! Do you have an if-then sentence? Then you can “break” it with a question.

For example:
“If you have any questions about the e-learning, then please feel free to contact …”.   

Convert to:
“Do you have any questions about the e-learning? Feel free to contact …”.  

Tip 4: KISS: Keep It Short and Simple

Readers will find a text easy and enjoyable to read if the average sentence length is around 15 words. Sentences that are too long quickly become unclear and lose the readers’ attention.

However, this is not a golden rule. A text with only sentences of about 15 words quickly becomes monotonous in terms of rhythm.

Therefore, vary the length of sentences. The text comes more to life if you switch between long and short sentences. How? By using a full stop more often. Or change the information into a question to attract attention. You can also alternate by using lists.

Tip 5: Make the page scannable

Readers want to see what information they are getting at a glance. This creates a certain expectation. The overview determines whether the reader continues reading, screens the page globally, or clicks straight through. How can you make a page scannable?

Limit to one subject per page

Cover one subject per page and separate side issues from main issues. Don’t get lost in details, but focus on the message. This is one of the most important writing tips to improve your e-Learning.

Work with headings

Headings help the learner see at a glance what the text is about. Short, concise headings are most effective.

Use enough blank spaces.

Many long It is difficult to get through, which makes the participant drop out more quickly. White lines in the text provide breathing space. It gives our brains a break during reading.


5 schrijftips voor krachtigere e-Learning

Pro tip: Depending on the format, this may or may not be possible. It is always a good idea to give the participants an overview of what they can expect.
Do you have several themes to tackle? Then split everything up and choose manageable pieces of content. That way, the concentration remains higher and you have a greater chance of a positive learning outcome.

Tip 6: Keep it short and to the point

Following an e-learning course requires a huge effort from participants and is putting stress on the working memory. A pitfall of trying to bring across too much information is that we overload this working memory and thus negatively affect retention of information. Since our working memory has its limitations, we need to take these limitations into account when developing our e-learning course.

Avoid long sections

Break up longer sections of information into bite-sized chunks. Make sure one key message is visible per activity or page you create. And to off-load the working memory, add a practice moment so participants can re-assure themselves they understand the material before they start a new chapter.

Pro tip: Dropping a quiz in the middle of a module gives the participants more confidence because they test their knowledge on the go. It’s to emphasize that they understand what they just learned.

Tip 7: Focus on what’s important

A big challenge any author has when creating an e-learning course is deciding what is “Need-to-know” and what is “Nice-to-know” information. Usually, a subject matter expert is involved in the creation process and there is a risk that everything becomes important. The challenge is thus to keep your focus on what is important.

Final assessment questions

When your course will have a final assessment, try to create your assessment questions before creating your actual content. Since your questions will focus on what’s important, they will serve as a checklist when creating the actual content. If you don’t have a question on a certain topic, it usually means that this is “Nice-to-know” information.

Pro tip: Embed the “nice-to-know” information at the end instead of in-between.

Tip 8: Review early and often

Be quick to ask feedback from others during the development stage of your e-learning course. As soon as your first outline is ready (otherwise known as your prototype), send this out for review to have a quick “sanity check”. Any effort after this stage will build on what you have already and taking a wrong turn here will result in a lot of work lost. As soon as more content is added to your final course, send it again and again.

Fail fast works

Remember to “Fail Fast” and try to work towards a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) so you can launch as soon as possible to your participants. And after deploying it to your participants, ask feedback about the course to further improve it.

Pro tip: feedback will be pivotal to keep improving your e-Learnings so maybe incorporate a questionary into your modules?

Tip 9: Interactivity through questions and feedback

Creating an e-learning course is not only about getting information to your participants, but also about making sure something is learned at the end of your course. The only way to make sure this happens is by adding interactivity to your course. And then we are not referring to making sure people need to click buttons to open extra information panels or to advance in the course. When we talk about interactivity we mean engaging with the content and actively learn in the course. One of the most important tools for this are questions and valuable feedback. Asking questions throughout the e-learning course gives the participant a chance to check if they understood the information. It also communicates to participants which nuances in the content are important for the course creator. So, avoid just adding questions for the sake of it. Genuinely think about WHAT will be asked and don’t ask any unimportant things. And for each question, provide valuable feedback.

There is more then ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’

Avoid sticking just to “correct” or “incorrect” (expect when you create a formal final assessment). Remember that your participant is alone in the learning process, all they have is the e-learning course. When they interact with questions, they need proper feedback that can put them back in the right direction when trying to understand the course content. Be aware of this when adding feedback to your questions. Make sure you clearly signal if the response was correct or incorrect and offer insights in WHY the reasoning of a participant was correct or incorrect.

Pro tip: Use every practice question as an opportunity to learn by reinforcing the key message you want to come across.

Tip 10: Use real-world scenario’s, stories and examples

When creating an e-learning it is important to ensure that there can be a learning transfer between the online course and the day-to-day practice of your participants. A technique to ensure this happens is bringing the real world into your digital training. This will help participants to see the significate of the subject matter and keep them engaged with the online course.

Understand the theory better

Another benefit of adding relevant context is that it will help in understanding theoretical concepts much better. If you are also able to put participants in a position whereby, they actively need to apply the information in context you will notice a positive impact on learner retention of information.

Pro tip: Mix the practical with the theoretical in order to apply theory in active situations.

Do you want to create powerful e-Learning?

Are you looking for a user-friendly e-learning software platform? With the FLOWSPARKS authoring tool, you get access to more than 30 e-Learning templates. Based on your learning goals, we offer a suitable template. Moreover, every customer benefits from a personal Customer Success Coach who supports you in setting up and developing a fully-fledged digital learning trajectory.

Want to know more? Get in touch.