Readings: E-Learning: Chapter 9


Chapter 9—Applying the Personalization Principle: Use Conversational Style and Virtual Coaches (pages 178–203)

##What to do

Read the Chapter. Write your response by Thursday. Reply to at least 2 people’s posts. :heart: at least 3 that seem interesting, provocative, that you agree with, or otherwise wish to acknowledge. At least one of your responses should be written after Thursday when everyone has had a chance to post. Ideally, you’ll participate on at least three different days.

In applying the personalization principle it is always useful to consider the audience and the cognitive consequences of your script–you want to write with sufficient informality so that the learners feel they are interacting with a conversational partner but not so informally that the learner is distracted of the material is undermined. Clark and Mayer, 2011

  1. What are some similarities and differences between formal and conversational styles?

  2. Provide an example of a presentation slide/text written in formal tone and transition the slide/text to a more conversational tone or vice versa. Your example should be brief, and only consist of 1-3 sentences.

  3. Briefly discuss how your edited version will affect student learning.

What to Look for (Tip for your assignment above):

Pay special attention to Figure 9.6 on page 186. This is an example of how one could move from a more formal approach to a more conversational style. This might be helpful in completing your post.

@Lorie_Evans @LR_Hunter


Any in-depth training program should deliver training as efficiently and effectively as possible. Through research, C&M explained that using on-screen agents can increase knowledge transfer for e-learning, making it more efficient. The training developers need to creatively adapt these on-screen agents to better the learning outcome. This can be done with using a more personalized version rather than a formal version. This conversational style allows the students to better relate to the material increasing the cognitive processing (C&M). As long as these agents are used for instructional value and not for entertainment purposes.

As we have seen in many chapters, following these principles has more effect on novice learners than it does on more experienced learners. Proving that the more experienced you are allows you to more easily relate to material.

It becomes easier for me to relate and comprehend information that is presented in this conversational style. That relates more to my cognitive process than a formal aspect. Just need to understand that you don’t need to be formal to be professional.


When I first started to read the chapter, I thought I preferred a more formal approach to instruction, but as I read through the examples I could easily see why the conversational approach was more effective.

@nrhudson You have given us great examples in the past from your field. I am wondering if you thought the What to Look for: was the section from @LR_Hunter and myself to focus on instead of helpful tips? Let us know so we can make changes.

Provide an example of a presentation slide/text written in formal tone and transition the slide/text to a more conversational tone or vice versa. Your example should be brief, and only consist of 1-3 sentences.

Briefly discuss how your edited version will affect student learning.

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@Lorie_Evans I made some changes to the format of the assignment (moved items around) to be clearer in what we are looking for in our posts.


Some similarities and differences between the styles is that for the most part, you are saying the same thing. The difference that I saw was in using “your” instead of “the”. It seemed that by adding personal second person pronouns, a person feels more involved in the learning (Clark & Mayer, 2011, pp. 187).

Here is a PPT slide that I made for Macro level systems analysis. I think this example is formal.

If I was going to rewrite it, I would make it more like this.

I think the edited slide comes across as less intense. It seems that the first one seems that the trainer is mandating these tasks. The second seems that these are friendly suggestions that will help the organization.


@Lorie_Evans and @LR_Hunter I think the changes make it the expectations clearer. Sorry if I missed the mark! Good luck this week.

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I would agree. If you wanted them to be more than suggestions, I suppose you could say, “During this training, you will write a vision statement.”


C & M (2011) explained that conversational styles can really make the student feel included or make the student feel as though they are being told what to do. When students feel engaged with the tone of the presentation, the amount of information that they retain outweighs what they would learn if the message was very passive. Also the amount the student participates in the class will also depend upon the social cues given by the instructor.

The following is a slide with formal tone…

And the following slide was re-written so the student felt more involved with how to help prevent heat loss…

If the student feels included in the participation, they will more likely be able to transfer the knowledge to a live scenario. It is up to the instructor to set the tone of the presentation and how it will effect the learners.


No apologies needed. As we have learned many times before in this course, we are all learning to improve instruction together.

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This may be especially important considering learners with less experience in the field.

If the students are more comfortable with the presentation of the material, they can imagine the live scenario before it takes place.

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Well said it!

In the examples, below you can see some of the similarities between formal and conversational styles. Both can present the same type of information in a polite using human voices if narrated

They differ in the way that in the way the instructional lesson evokes social presence. The personalized version transmits direct communication with the learner. The authors emphasized that this social presence causes deeper cognitive processing during learning resulting in a better learning outcome.

Example A: in conversational style

Do you know…You can learn most mathematics through problem solving. You would be building mathematics knowledge when you practice problem solving with me.

Example B: in Formal tone

During problem solving, students are building mathematics knowledge. Most mathematics can be taught through problem solving.

According to C & M (2011), researchers found that experiments on personalized version, such as in the Example A, shown better performance and transfer. Therefore, by adding “you” in version the B, the text becomes a conversation and the social presence will make the learner think harder about what is being said resulting in better learning.


##What are some similarities and differences between formal and conversational styles? I found more differences between the formal and conversational styles than I found similarities. The similarities between formal and conversational styles are that they both deliver/present information. Another, as C&M suggested, would be that they can both be applied in synchronous and asynchronous forms of e-learning.

##The differences: Formal style simply states the information in matter of fact way. It usually contains longer sentences and is written with a more serious tone. This style speaks more directly to the learner.

Conversational style speaks to the learner by using “you” in the statements. This gives the learner a more relaxed tone for learning. It also uses shorter sentences with figurative speech that improves the overall cognitive learning without too many distractions in the content.

###Text written in formal tone

###Text written in conversational tone If you use solar energy, you don’t have to worry about losing energy on cloudy days. Your panels will store the energy for you for up to five days.

###How my edited version will affect student learning:

I edited the original formal style of writing to a more conversational style by shortening the sentences and speaking to the reader using “you”. I also used contractions to make my sentences more brief. This version has a more relaxed tone in presenting the information and I feel that it is more user-friendly to the learner. This will allow the learner to make sense of the material.


##Chapter 9 - Applying the Personalization Principle

##Similarities and DIfferences Formal style is like it’s name says “formal”, where the grammar, language, and presentation are presented formally in passive voice with no abbreviations or slang speech. Conversational style is like it’s name says “conversational”, where the information is presented in a more laid back manner, using an active voice, abbreviations, short sentences, and it generally gets to the point quicker.

Personally, I learn better when things are presented in more of conversational style. I don’t need a presentation to present everything there is to know about a subject. I prefer presentations to describe what I must know, and then if something sparks my interest or I need a deeper understanding, I will go back on my own time and dig further into the topic.

###Example of Formal Tone This presentation is about differences of chemical and physical changes. Chemical changes occur when two substances react with each other and change on a molecular level. Physical changes occur when the form of substances are affected, but not the chemical composition. Understanding these differences is key to understanding chemistry.

Formal Tone Switched to a Conversational Tone

To understand chemistry you need to know how to tell the difference between a chemical and physical change. If you’re mixing two substances together and they react with each other to make a new substance, you’ve probably watched a chemical change. If you were to mix two substances together and they only looked different, but are still the same substances, then you’ve probably observed a physical change. Once you understand these differences, chemistry will be a breeze.

In the conversational tone example I think my students would be able to understand the text better because it uses vocabulary that they should be familiar with verses words like molecular and chemical composition that they haven’t been exposed to yet. We only learn the very basics of chemistry, so complex vocabulary at this point won’t help them to accomplish the goal of knowing the differences of chemical and physical changes.


Completely agree

I agree too this statement as well… but just because a lesson or presentation is presented in conversational style does not mean it covering less material or easier than a more formal presentation. I know that is not what you were saying, there is a time and place for formality, but like you said - people have an easier time relating to the material if it is presented in a conversational style.


Formal and conversational styles have similarities and differences. They are similar in that they are conveying the same information, but they are different in that the conversational style is easier for the reader to relate to. The use of personal pronouns in the conversational style allows the reader to be more engaged and interested (Clark & Mayer, 2011) in the material.

I made the slides below by taking information from the Career Services website page on Internships. My first slide gives a brief explanation of an internship, its benefits and the program requirements. The second slide hopefully gives the same information, but in a more direct way to the student allowing them to relate it to themselves.


Formal style in instruction is a very familiar way of instruction to be presented, I want to say the majority of my learning has been presented in a formal style. The conversational approach seems to have some benefits as an educational structuring approach, it relate the why you are learning to more life-like circumstances. This reminds me of authentic learning, the conversational style is more representative of authentic learning and I can see the benefits of this style. In Clark and Mayer (2011) it points out that the conversational style can help a learners cognitive processing.

An example of conversational style vs. formal style

  1. Conversational: Hello! My name is Patti. I am a utilization manager too. The first thing I do in the morning is review my patient worklist and prioritize my day base on several factors. Let me show you how to do this.
  1. Formal: The first step in UM is to review your worklist and prioritize your day.

Personalizing the message allows the learner to be ready to use the correct cognitive process and is allows learner to be able to relate the information to what they do in there day-to-day environment.


I was reading both your examples and I feel like the conversational tone seemed friendlier and like it was speaking to my abilities.


Would you go so far as to say you are making a connection to long term memory by combining familiar vocabulary with new material?

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You make a good point. I do think conversational tone can be more effective, but instructional designers must be careful not to change the meaning of the statement. I think the last sentence in your 2nd slide is definitely makes this proposed relationship more meaningful for the student.

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I have mixed feelings on formal verses conversational styles. I think the conversational style can be helpful in understanding difficult information. The book had some good examples of when the conversational style works. I also think it is important for MY students to be able to understand and interact using formal language, so I think it is important to use formal language also, especially for easier tasks and such.

A few years ago I did some technical editing. The trend is towards conversational language, but it is important to know when conversational is acceptable and when formal is expected because it is a mix. I also had to learn to be conversational in my actual editing, which was interesting. Instead of saying there was a fragment, I learned it was better to make a friendly comment like “I think you might have gotten up for popcorn and forgotten to finish your idea.”

I don’t always like the conversational style being used. Sometimes it seems we dumb down communication skills too much, and I think it can have a negative impact.