Good writing for e-learning


George Orwell gave us six rules government wafflers (see my previous post) should use:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.

I would add

7. Pay attention to your audience.

This post offers clear thinking about writing for the web.


Educational Games on mobile phones


This is a great example of a game that teaches without preaching. A Sims-style experience allows teenagers to live through the experience of moving out, renting a flat and negotiating independence. Made by Creative North with the local housing association in Kirklees.

We all carry our mobile phone all of the time. And it’s a source of solace and distraction when delayed on a journey. Teens with mobile phones are a readily harvestable audience for any games. The children I know are quite happy to play repetitive games of snake endlessly so the bar doesn’t have to be too high. Well-made games like these with a strong narrative drive provide an entertaining game with a well concealed but wise foundation that can also be shared with friends.

Does technology mean better learning?


I often agree that technology is leading to massive positive change in the way we learn and teach. The interview with Julian Baggini  reminded me that it isn’t necessarily so. However much the technology allows us to personalise our learning, and disseminate our teaching, fundamental things about learning remain the same and have done since Socrates. We don’t really learn anything until we are motivated to learn. Our motivation can still be destroyed and depressed by bad teaching – of which there have been many examples in elearning, just as there have in traditional learning. I have seen Gradgrind at work with a white board and a set of tablet PCs at least as often as I have seen him with a stick of chalk. And this, as Baggini’s interview reminds us, is because we still bring ourselves along with our technology, so the instinct to rubberneck unashamedly at an accident and then talk about it to our friends can be transformed into taking a picture of an accident on a mobile phone and sending it on to our friends. Our basic instincts remain. Online, just as offline, we see both altruism and mendacity, excellence and mediocrity. The quality of the educator, their ability to scaffold learning and to inspire and motivate is still the key to good elearning. The difference for learners is the possibility of much greater choice of providers, to find the right one for them instead of being tied to a sole provider. The need to be a great teacher is still essential.