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Why Higher Ed Needs Plain Language

I gave this talk at Confab Higher Ed 2013. In higher ed, it's easy to assume we have an educated audience and we don't need to spend a lot of time worrying about whether we're clear. But it's easy to be misunderstood -- we don't have the same context as our audience.

Why Higher Ed Needs Plain Language

  1. 1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrbelex/ Being Understood Why Higher Ed Needs Plain Language @lauracreekmore
  2. 2. “No one will miss you.”
  3. 3. “No one will miss you.” “Thanks a LOT, Mom!”
  4. 4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/expertinfantry/ Authority
  5. 5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alinasofia/
  6. 6. http://www.flickr.com/photos/68069913@N02/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50390668@N04/
  7. 7. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_grey/
  8. 8. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhysasplundh/ 43%
  9. 9. Find the time a TV program ends, using a newspaper TV schedule that lists similar programs showing at different times on different channels. Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy
  10. 10. List two facts from a business magazine article that explain why a marketer quoted has a particular opinion. Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy
  11. 11. Find the age range when children should get a particular vaccine, using a chart that shows all childhood vaccines and the ages children should receive them. Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy
  12. 12. Follow directions, using a clearly labeled map. Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy
  13. 13. Health Literacy
  14. 14. Health Literacy of U.S. Adults Source: U.S.Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences,National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
  15. 15. http://www.flickr.com/photos/v1ctor/ Yes
  16. 16. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrbelex/ Handling Jargon
  17. 17. Testing Content http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertogp123/
  18. 18. Loans Students apply for consideration for __________ Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, __________ UA institutional loans by completing __________ FAFSA. A Federal Direct Subsidized __________ Loan is awarded on the __________ of the student's financial need __________ other specific eligibility requirements. The __________ government does not charge interest __________ these loans while borrowers are __________ at least half-time, during a __________ grace period, or during authorized __________ of deferment. The interest subsidy __________ during the six-month grace period __________ subsidized loans is eliminated for __________ loans made between July 1, 2012 and ___________. Loan repayment still begins six __________ after you are no longer __________ at least half-time, but interest __________ accrues during those six months __________ no longer be subsidized by __________ federal government. The student will __________ responsible for the interest during __________ grace period.
  19. 19. w Loans Students apply for consideration for __________ Direct Loans, Federal Federal Perkins Loans, __________ UA institutional loans by completing and the __________ FAFSA. A Federal Direct Subsidized __________ Loan is awarded on the Stafford __________ of the student's financial need __________ other specific basis and eligibility requirements. The __________ government does not charge federal interest __________ these loans while borrowers are __________ at least on enrolled half-time, during asix-monthgrace period, or during authorized periods __________ ____ ______ of deferment. offered The interest subsidy __________ during the six-month grace period __________ subsidized loans is eliminated for __________ loans made on new between July 1, 2012 andJuly 1, 2014 Loan repayment still begins six ___________. __________ after you are no longer __________ at least half-time, but months enrolled interest __________ accrues during those six months __________ no that will longer be subsidized by __________ federal government. The student will the __________ responsible for the interest during __________ grace period. be the
  20. 20. Cloze test Grade-level testing Reading ease scales
  21. 21. http://www.flickr.com/photos/salilwadhavkar/
  22. 22. Make a checklist
  23. 23. Language and Writing Style Use simple words. Define complex terms. Use sentences of 10-15 words. Use bullet lists when appropriate. Use active voice, vivid verbs. Use consistent terms. Use positive perspective when possible. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/etr.html
  24. 24. Great Writing
  25. 25. Select preferred terms
  26. 26. Search Analytics
  27. 27. Content testing http://alistapart.com/article/testing-content http://www.nngroup.com/articles/cloze-test-reading-comprehension/ Make your website more readable http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/making-your-website-senior-friendly http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/WrittenMaterialsToolkit/ http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/etr.html Books
  28. 28. Laura Creekmore h"p://creekcontent.com laura@creekcontent.com   @lauracreekmore h"p://slideshare.net/lauracreekmore

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    Jan. 2, 2014

I gave this talk at Confab Higher Ed 2013. In higher ed, it's easy to assume we have an educated audience and we don't need to spend a lot of time worrying about whether we're clear. But it's easy to be misunderstood -- we don't have the same context as our audience.

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