Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is Good Writing? - My View...


This post is written by Taruna Goel

This is my response to Manish's question posted on e3cube ponder.


Tony Karrer talks about Good Writing in his post Would you like to share your experiences on eCube about this?

You can also find this response on my blog.


Tony Karrer blogs about Good Writing here. Tony has interesting views on the topic and I agree with many points. The question, 'What is good writing?' often comes up in many of my discussions with budding writers and seasoned instructional designers. There are multiple rubrics that are used to grade writing. I designed one in my current organization and used it to assess and calibrate the writing skills of all authors and designers. Automated systems are also making their presence felt. And we have rolled out a certain application too. However, if you notice the criteria across writing rubrics - many items in the list don't match. Sometimes, items contradict. Therefore, there are no fixed 'rules' about good writing. But we all recognize good writing when we see it!

In this situation, how do I define 'good writing’? I say that a piece is well-written if it meets its objective. For example, if I need to write an essay about the role of media in the world today – it should have an introduction, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion to do justice to the nature of content. But if I need to write an ad copy about the same thing – shorter is always better!

I agree with Tony on writing for skimming. But skimming is nothing new. Since the inception of web, editors and reviewers have been stressing about brevity. And not only the web, we almost always skim through much of other material including newspapers, journals, books, and manuals. Do you remember the last time you read the manual that came with your digital camera, word-by-word? Guess not.

Therefore, if your writing is aligned to its purpose, to meet the objective, it is good. I would just look at some of the traditional principles of instructional design and use those as factors to be considered when writing anything! Two things that help me define how I want to write include:

  1. who is my audience (audience analysis)
  2. why should they read the piece of information/what do they want to achieve out of it? (task analysis)
When I align my writing to the specifics received by answering the questions above, I am likely to write well. Applying principles and rules of grammar and punctuation and an ability to write using Global English are things that further add clarity to my writing. But I don't believe that a grammatically-correct piece of writing is 'good' until it helps the reader achieve what it meant to! So there's my story.

But if you are interested in’s an interesting link to explore on what makes good writing. This is by ‘Teaching That Makes Sense’.
What is good writing (HTML)?
What is good writing (PDF)?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Use of Games in Learning


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view the examples on their site. In this post I review the best use of games in learning.

Best use of games for learning

With all the talk games in elearning (my homophily syndrome), I initially read the category has Best Use of Games in eLearning. On reading the write-up about the entry I realized that the entry was titled Best Use of Games in Learning. Of course, how stupid of me, I thought.

The best use of games for learning category has an example from Accenture. This entry is an example of Accenture basically using games in instructor led scenario. The participants form teams to run a business unit as a simulation. The teams were formed with participants from different functional areas. There is a fair bit of technology solution involved. Accenture has created a computer-based planning tool to assist each team's decision making process. The data in this tool matches closely the data that the participants will deal with on the job.

I remember playing such games in some of our training programs. These are always fun to play and really enhance learning and retention of concepts. I think Accenture's use of a computer-based tool that has data that matches real life data closely is a great idea. And the fact that they make teams of participants from different functional areas also enhances the learning that the participants experience just by interacting with each other. The 10 page case study document is definitely worth a read.

Related posts:

Review of Best Custom Content

Review of Best Innovation in Learning Technology

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Innovation in Learning Technology


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view all examples on their site. In this post I review the best innovation in learning technology.

Best innovation in learning technology

This example presents an interesting authoring tool. I have seen and worked on similar tools, including those in my organizations. What I really liked was the simplicity of the interface of RapidIntake's Unison tool. Some cool features are automatic conversion of media formats into Internet friendly format (mp3, Flash video, jpg etc.), tags for media assets, chat with others who might be working on the same course. They have clever SaaS pricing models too. For example you get source files for your course only if you are a Pro member.

Of course, there is more to building an elearning course, especially if you are a vendor for custom content. The customer will always want something else and there is much work to be done in building assets outside a tool like this one. Notwithstanding this, I really like this product.

Note to self: Thought innovation in learning technology category was about LMS or something like that. Need to volunteer to be a judge in this category too.

Related posts:

Review of Best Custom Content

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Custom Content


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view all examples on their site. Over the next few posts I will post my comments on the award winning entries. I start with Best Custom Content.

Best Custom Content

Watch approx 4 minute video of the award winning custom content. I like the introduction to the course, very emotional. Rest of the course is however just a regular elearning course with next and previous buttons and the regular suspects of controls, nothing that you haven't seen before if you've been in this industry long enough. The central portion of the screen presents the content in a series of narrated animation. The media presentation is, well, ordinary and standard. Nothing new in the interactivities either. So if you're expecting something new and brilliant, either in instructional design, strategy or just slick presentation, you'll be disappointed.


Suggested Reading


Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Revolution Two Church theme by Brian Gardner Converted into Blogger Template by Bloganol dot com. Some icons from Zeusbox Studio