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The benefits of a conversational style in elearning

As learning technology specialists, we at LEO pride ourselves on producing elearning courses based on a bedrock of pedagogical theory. One aspect of this is the implementation of the personalisation principle — using informal language and direct address to emulate a conversation with the user.

Creating rapport in elearning

Incorporating these social cues into our elearning programmes helps to create a dialogue with our users, moving them away from feeling like it’s something they ‘have to do’. This view, however, is often met with scepticism. Those with reservations may suggest that a more reserved tone suits corporate elearning better, particularly when it forms part of mandatory training. After all, won’t this chatty style undermine the most salient points of the course?

The answer is: not if you’re careful. The view that corporate communications need to be formal is based on a misguided notion: that elearning is designed to deliver information, rather than create an experience. Adopting a conversational style serves to create a ‘personality’ with whom the user is more likely to engage, as opposed to an information provider. And the more engaged a user is, the more likely a better learning outcome and positive change for your organisation is.

For example, take the word ‘simultaneously’. From a semantic perspective, this conveys the same meaning as ‘at the same time’ in three fewer words, so can be perceived as a more efficient adverbial. Yet which term sounds friendlier? I’d suggest it’s the latter, and it’s this kind of approachable language that primes the learner for a productive learning experience. Moreover, it can be reasonably assumed that users will hear the latter more often during their day-to-day roles — the programme’s voice will echo their colleagues’.

Everything in moderation

We do, however, consider an old adage when trying to create this friendly style: ‘everything in moderation’. Overusing it or using it inappropriately can distract the learner, which can negate the impact of your message. For instance, suppose you’re producing a course on information security awareness. You’d probably need to reconsider the appropriateness of an introductory phrase such as: “Hey there, guys — great day for some elearning, isn’t it?” Personalising the learning doesn’t mean channelling the voice of a children’s TV presenter throughout the training. In fact, it can be as simple as replacing all instances of phrasal nouns such as ‘the manager’ with ‘your manager’.

So while it is true that elearning’s tone of voice shouldn’t be overly familiar, there is a growing body of evidence that supports a conversational approach. At LEO, we are adept enough to ensure your organisation’s voice is heard while maintaining our commitment to tried and tested pedagogical theory, resulting in an excellent experience for your users.

To find out more about LEO’s multi-device elearning offering, why not get in touch to speak to a member of our team?

This week’s LEO blog post comes from learning designer Victor Verster.