Difficult content into course

Jun 03, 2014

Hi everyone,

I am new to the elearning world and need to build a course on a difficult topic - grief and bereavement for a charity that helps parents and sick children. Obviously it is a sensitive topic and so want to keep it professional and use images of real people rather than cartoon images. I also need to use real people as part of our branding guidelines. At the moment I have a lot of text and not much idea on how to make it into an engaging course with the restrictions I have. Does anyone have any suggestions or examples of any similar courses?

Many thanks.


5 Replies
Caroline Lawless

Hi Maria,

I'm not an expert on creating courses for this sensitive topic but you may find my blog post on how to create engaging eLearning content useful for tips on how to structure the course and manage text content: http://www.learnupon.com/how-to-create-engaging-elearning-content/


Digital Marketer


Jackie Van Nice

Hi Maria!

My guess is someone here will have examples of similar topics.

My approach in designing any piece is to go for some kind of emotional engagement (regardless of what kind of emotion), and your topic is perfect for eliciting emotion that will be involving and engaging.

My approach would be to present a relevant situation up front that represents the problem your course addresses, using characters and good images (this can be done quite tastefully, of course), and then use those characters and that situation to show the journey from where they are (grief-stricken and devastated), through learning about what they can do, showing them taking specific action, and wrapping up by showing how far they've come, what they learned, and what steps might be next.

Approached this way it could be quite tasteful, helpful, moving, and engaging.

Bob S

Hi Maria,

First... welcome to the community! 

As for your question...  I would urge you to carefully craft the "message" of the learning in clear, almost marketing-like terms. I don't think you want a course on grief. Instead your course teaches people how to move through the stages of grief to a better place. This distinction may seem like semantics, but it's important.... especially with difficult topics.

Once you've settled on a message that can lead you to an appropriate design. For example... if your message centers around weathering the storm and moving towards a brighter day, the visual theme can include poignant sunrises and the contextual theme can echo that sentiment.

Jackie is spot on, you want the emotional connection. But help them connect with the purpose of the training....where you want them wind up and of course be sensitive along the way so it's real for them.

Hope this helps,


Phil Mayor

I built courses on bereavement when I worked for a cancer Network.  It really depends on who the course is aimed at, is it aimed at the parents or at the staff dealing with the parents or at the children themselves?

Is the course to help someone through bereavement (not sure this will work) or to help staff who deal with people going through bereavement?

If it is aimed at the child then cartoon images may be appropriate, look at books like "Goodbye Mog" which is a great book to introduce bereavement to children.

Otherwise I would go with Jackies suggestion of developing scenarios.

Nancy Woinoski

I have not done a lot of work in this area but I did create a series of modules on how to support children and teens when a family member has cancer. The modules were aimed at educators and health care professionals.

I used a lot of video clips to give the material authenticity - The client did not have a budget to create video so they got permission from organizations like LIVESTRONG to use clips from some of videos they produced.

I also used, with permission from various hospices, cancer support and family services organizations, lots of artwork that was created by children whose parents have or had cancer.

In addition, I interspersed a lot of interactive questions to challenge the learners assumptions about cancer.

One of the biggest challenges with this was getting the client to cut down the amount of content they wanted to include and just focus on what was necessary instruction.

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