Healthcare compliances training and discussion blog

Readability and eLearning

There’s a lot of information out there about reading levels and readability indices, and what your target should be for an eLearning course. If you run your script through a readability tool and you don’t like the result, try applying one or more of these tips to your script then try again.

  • Be direct and concise. Get to the point right away, and look for ways to say the same thing in fewer words. This is great advice for many types of writing, and particularly important when designing training for busy adults. Two things in particular to watch for in training materials are sentences written in third person or passive voice, which are typically wordier and not as precise as first person or active voice.
    • Example of first vs. third person: “you” vs. “the employee”
    • Example of active vs. passive voice: “Always wear safety goggles when operating the saw.” vs. “Safety goggles should always be worn when the saw is in operation.”
  • Watch sentence length. An average of around 20 words per sentence is a good guideline to follow – but use variety in sentence length and structure to help hold your learner’s interest.
  • Provide context and transitions. This may seem counterintuitive when you are trying to reduce word count, but these are not “empty calories” in your course. Providing those vital connections between ideas greatly aids comprehension.
  • What DOESN’T need to be included? If learners don’t need to know it to meet the learning objectives of the course, why risk either boring an advanced learner or confusing a beginning learner? Leave it out, or include it only in a Job Aid.
  • Use informative graphics. A great way to improve a course is to try to replace as much of the screen text as possible with graphics. Not clip art or happy, smiling people kind of images, but graphics that clearly illustrate the concept, task, or behavior.


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