module on improving writing skills

May 15, 2012

Hello. I wonder if anyone has come across a good e-learning module or two on improving writing skills, geared toward professionals (in my case, scientists who are slow to acknowledge their writing deficiencies). I saw a December 2011 post from Patti in response to a question about teaching technical writing. I love her idea about using a character to involve the learner in improving an existing document. I just wonder if anyone has ever come across a good example of a writing module, or if this is a particularly tricky topic to do online. (I'm fairly new to e-learning.) I'd be grateful for any insights or guidance. Thank you very much. I love this resource and hope someday to answer more than I ask.

7 Replies
Bruce Graham

Hi Carole.

As this is such an enormous subject, why don't you start by thinking about, perhaps the 10 most "serious" infringements!

You will need to consider the question of "Writing that is audience-relevant" - the style needs to be different depending on whether they are talking to other scientists or laypeople.

You could use the built-in "two person scenario" interaction to show the "original" content, than show 2-3 ways that it could be made better, explaining WHY it is better, and for whom.

Perhaps this helps - start designing here and then we can suggest ways to move the project along?

Best of luck.


Natalia Mueller

That's a great idea, Bruce. 

I've seen some other conversations on here about writing courses. The challenge seems to be if you want them to freely input a lot of text. I believe a solution I saw involved Google Docs. That seems like biting off a lot but it depends on the scope of your project.

Since you are probably not looking to launch a full grammar course, Bruce's suggestion to include the top problems and WHY could be a great solution. As you are likely dealing with egos (I've trained surgeons- I get it) , maybe include scenario feedback that shows someone thinking the scientists work is discredited because of the writing errors or a grant not being won for the same reason. That could really help the learners see the relevance of the course and motivate them to change their behavior. 

This is a really interesting project. Looking forward to hearing about your progress!

Bruce Graham

Here's something you may not be aware of.....

In Word, there's a little option under the "Spelling and Grammar" options.

Turn it on, and once you have completed a full spellcheck, it will give you "Readability Statistics" - here are some for a talk I'm giving next week:

Mine for this document are 69.9.

Look at Wikipedia for more information - but you will see that my document is suitable for 13-15 year old students.

That's about right....seeing as it's my script for the Leeds Articulate presentation and I need Dragos, Phil and Tom to understand what I'm saying

You could have some fun with them first using this technique


Carole Manny

This is great stuff! I'm grateful for the ideas and tools you've both shared. I have a lot more options than I imagined. Now I'm more confident in approaching the SMEs with the possibilities. They're so used to seeing boring recorded Webcasts, and we need to wean them off those. Thanks for your help!