Topics are contained within modules and are the most granular level of information. A topic can include static images, diagrams, interactions, and videos. depending on what is required to communicate the material to your audience. On average, a topic should take 5 to 15 minutes for a learner to complete. Five to seven topics can be included in a single module, with a minimum requirement of two topics before the module can be published.
The following Quick Tip video explains what a good topic layout looks like and why it works:
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating a topic:
- Write for the audience. Design the material to make it relevant and meaningful to the learner by relating what is being learned with what the learner already knows and will use on the job.
- Keep the material short, concise, and clear.
- Gain attention through relevant stories, facts, or questions.
- Chunk up the material into bite size, consumable pieces. For example, if you had 30 seconds to memorize ten numbers, which way is easier? 7-2-9-6-3-4-0-5-2-1 or 729-634-0521?
- Remember this fact: "...a user will remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 90% of what they do." (ref: Edgar Dale). Be sure to add interactions, simulations, scenario-based testing, and quizzing to aid in the retention of the material.
Topics are conceptual or task-based.
Use concept topics to explain abstract ideas and introduce terminology. Concept topics should provide general explanations, background information, and examples.
Follow concept topics with at least one task-based topic. Follow concept topics that introduce complex features with other concept or related task topics.
Use task topics to describe the steps of a particular task. A task topic answers the question of "how to?" by telling the learner what to do and the order in which to do it.
A task topic contains a single procedure, which is made up of a series of steps. Each step describes a single action or command for the learner to take. A step can also describe the step results.
Include sections for describing the context, the actual steps, and the expected results for the task.