Write On Target
You're staring at hundreds of pages of documents, transcripts from SME interviews, and a blank page. How do you translate all of this information into meaningful learning content?
Let's talk about the writing process.
Step 1: MAP IT
The first thing I encourage you to do is MAP IT, which is an acronym for:
Medium - In what format?
Audience - For whom?
Purpose - For what reason? To address what goal?
Instructions - With what special considerations from the client?
Timing - In how long (both in terms of how quick you need to deliver it and how long you have for learners to consume it)?
This is essentially a mini needs analysis that allows you to define the writing context. Whether your job is to develop a participant guide or a video script, once you've addressed these areas, you'll be able to better identify the style, tone, and mood that makes sense for what you're about to write.
Step 2: Determine Your Approach
Take some time to brainstorm your approach. How do you want to bring this content to life? Generally, content breaks down into one of three buckets:
explainer - provide information
story - use narrative to help people learn
interactive - invite people to participate / interact with content
Choose one-- or several-- of these approaches and give yourself a general template for how you'll use them.
For example, if you're writing a workbook, you might decide that frequently asked questions will be addressed with text explanations (explainer), while you invite people to engage with a process through a series of prompts that invite them to reflect (interactive).
Step 3: Filter the Filler
Remember in step 1 you defined the purpose of the content? Well, that purpose should guide every single thing you decide to include, skip, or edit out of your work.
If it doesn't help your learner to make the transformation desired, if it doesn't match with the goals and objectives outlined, cut it.
If it's essential and helps your learner to be able to complete the required transformation, it goes in.
Step 4: Set Up a Schema-Driven Outline
Schemas are mental models. They help us to make sense of information more easily by taking new information and presenting it in familiar ways. This makes the information easier to digest and to remember.
A few common schemas are:
cause and effect
micro to macro / macro to micro
order of complexity
problem and solution
Step 5: Review and Revise
No one gets it 100% right on the first time. Ask for feedback, review it yourself, and revise. Keep a keen eye out for fluff that can be cut and confusing content.
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