The Great Wall of Text

Hello Everyone!

I've been handed a very wordy compliance document to "convert" into a course and am having some issues getting off of the starting block.

I understand that work specific scenarios and interactions are a great way of delivering information, but what happens when this is simply not possible/obvious? Such as dealing with dense paragraphs on a topic?

I've been able to formulate some click reveals and pull some basic questions from the information, but haven't been able to draft any scenarios for lack on contact with SME who has left me in the dark a little bit.

What do you guys do to break up the wall of text in your courses so that they aren't visible from space?

4 Replies
G Innes

Hi Tim

First I would have a discussion with the subject expert as quite often they have ideas which I can help them with.  If not, I would share some existing examples with the SME to show what kind of thing is possible. Hopefully, that would get the inspirational ball rolling.

Failing that, I would explore different forms of media.   Can some of the text be turned into a video or screen cast?  Can some be audio podcast?  Can some become an activity - either online using forums, quizzes etc or face to face group work, depending on the students/situation.

For our online courses, the bulk of the material is text but we break that into "Topics". Each course has about 6 topics.  Each topic ends in an activity or a question, which the students discuss and research.  The course ends in an assessment.

Using Storyline, you could have video presentations, screen casts knowledge checks through out.  The online assessment could have some form of gamification - if appropriate! 

Often the content will fit into a variety of possible themes.  I would also explore the downloads section above for templates as again this often triggers inspiration.

I hope some of that helps. Nothing worse than being stuck!

Laurel Schulert

I had a similar issue recently; I had to write a course on how our company uses two form letters (essentially, two documents that are "walls" of fine print and legal speak). Each of these are customer-facing documents, so although the customers likely never truly read them, the employees need to be familiar with their contents.

Luckily, I'm encouraged to be a bit whimsical in my courses, so I wrote the story of "Jane," the customer, who interacts with "Jessica," the employee. Jane goes through the typical customer journey of encountering these documents, and like a good customer she reads them (and Jessica explains them to her). Having a story and faces of real people (albeit stock elearning photos) went a long way to humanize the course.

Tracy Carroll

I ask the SME to help me come up with behavioral objectives for the module. What specific actions do the learners/employees have to do to be in compliance? Instead of focusing on knowledge the learners should acquire, I focus on the desired actions they are supposed to take.

Once I have the behavioral objectives, it's easier to come up with scenarios to illustrate the points. Using a bit of humor in the scenarios is always my inclination, too. I generally try to condense big blocks of texts to the essentials, and let the learner use that as a job aid, to help them make decisions as they go through the scenarios.

Tim Clark

Tracy - Good stuff there, I like the idea of highlighting behavioral objectives, although we do something similar I have never thought to put it like that, thank you!

Laurel - Forging a narrative sounds like a great direction to take.

Gavin - Chunking content into topics wrapped up with a question/memory check looks like a good formula and is probably the direction I will be taking.

SME has finally got back to me stating that this is for (very) senior staff and that the information can happily be presented in an ebook format with some memory checks in between.

Crisis averted? Perhaps :D