If you think of myriad as meaning "countless," you have to use it as an adjective:
So, I guess we sticklers for the adjective can lighten up a little--it is acceptable to use myriad as a noun. Sigh.
"In this course you will learn the functionality of [insert topic you've never heard of]. By the end of this lesson, you should be able to [do a bunch of procedures the utility of which is not immediately evident]."
Traditionally, many of us have written these types of sentences at the top of page 1 of our courseware materials or eLearning scripts, and then that has served as our audience's only introduction to the topic of the course.
It doesn't have to be that way. I'd like to introduce the Introductory Narrative--a brief paragraph prior to the sentences above and the list of objectives. Its job is to engage the learner and perhaps provide a little positivity and motivation.
The introductory narrative should do five things.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be exploring each of these topics in turn. Today let's look at the first one: signaling the correct audience.
Signaling the correct audience is indicating in your first sentence who the intended audience is for the course or lesson. It can be done a couple of different ways.
First, you can always indicate the correct audience for a course or lesson by explicitly naming the job title or describing the situation of the person the learning is meant to address, and using the word you:
As a warehouse employee here at ABC Company, you...
As the parent of a newborn, you...
Another popular way to signal the intended audience is to ask a question. If the learner answers yes, they are the correct audience:
Have you ever taken a picture of someone and had their eyes come out red?
Do you need a quick way to transfer files between computers?
Do you need to build an authentication and identity API?
Learners who answer yes, immediately understand that the lesson is for them. Those who answer no or don't recognize what you are talking about will instantly know that the training is not intended for them.
A more subtle way to signal the correct audience is to describe a real-world situation with "you" at the center:
So you've landed the interview. Now you've got to land the job.
Without directly saying "this training is intended for persons who are currently seeking employment," the message is conveyed that if you are currently trying to get a job, this training is for you.
Of course the introductory narrative for training materials is not the only place you might need to use these methods of signaling the correct audience.
You might need to do this in the subject line of a company-wide email aimed at a subset of employees. Or in the first paragraph of any article or blog entry. Or you might need to write a course description to help potential learners identify the correct training for them.
Kevin Siegel and Jennie Ruby, Writing for Curriculum Development 3.0, 2014, IconLogic.
Do you need to learn how to write eLearning scripts? Come check out my live, online mini course.
Starting off our pet peeves this week are two about fake words. Julie Vails gives us
Anyways. That is not a word!
Anyways is a dialect entry in Webster's. Certainly it does not belong in business writing.
Lisa Blaski calls out
Made-up words--for example making the word "solicit" into "solicitating."
That is a great example of a "back formation." People invent incorrect verbs by working backward from the noun form, in this case, solicitation. Since the noun has that extra syllable in it, they put that syllable into the verb form, or in some cases just make up a verb that does not exist. Here are a couple of others:
Conversate, conversating (from conversation)
commentate (from commentator)
emote (from emotion)
What happens next is that the dictionary writers observe these words and some of them become accepted usage, like curate (from curator).
That extra syllable creeps into some other words as well, such as preventative (should be preventive), but that is not even a back formation from anything!
Stacey Edwards gives us a wordy phrase as a pet peeve:
I frequently see the phrase "in order" added to a description of how to accomplish a particular task. For example, in order to bake a cake, you must have an oven. I cannot think of an example when "in order" actually adds any information or is required for clarity.
And rounding out this week's batch, Mary Gerhardt gives us another example from a regional dialect:
My pet peeve is when people pair the verb need with a past-tense verb, for example, "Those dishes need washed," or "This project needs finished." I respect and appreciate regional dialects, but I cringe when I hear it in a formal business setting or see it in corporate documents. I believe this is just an Iowa phenomenon.
What they are leaving out, of course, is to be.
The hoard continues to grow, and I will keep sharing the peeves. In a few weeks we will try another direction; but for now, stay peeved, my friends, stay peeved.
I'm not sure it's the best of luck to start the New Year peeved, but when it's a grammar pet peeve, I cannot resist. Here are two pet peeves from Laura Gillenwater, both of which I end up covering in every writing class:
Let's start with the first one: You are so right, Laura! Using the word utilize is overkill when the word use will do just fine. Although the dictionary does indicate that utilize is a synonym for use, utilize does have a more specific meaning that goes beyond the plainer verb use: you utilize something that was previously going to waste or not being used for the purpose you now propose. A sentence like this would be a specific place where utilize is more specific than use: