More on the online IC Clear pilot modules, Technical Writers @ Lisbon (June-2014, informal)

From 31 March until 29 June the IC Clear consortium will run four ONLINE pilot modules of the IC Clear course to which you can apply. Module 0 starts on 31 March and ends 27 April (4 weeks). The other three modules 1, 2, and 3 follow module 0 and all start on 5 May and end on 29 June (8 weeks).

  • Module 0 is an introduction to clear communication and the other modules.
  • Module 1 is about planning and evaluating communications.
  • Module 2 covers clear writing.
  • Module 3 focuses on design for clarity.

WHO should takes this modules?

All these modules are highly relevant to anyone who - as a part of their job or as a full-time job - plans, writes, designs or evaluates the effectiveness of clear documents. In a clear document, whether online or in print, people for whom the information is intended can:

  • quickly and easily find what they need
  • understand what they find
  • act appropriately on that understanding.

The modules are also appropriate for managers of employees who develop clear communications.

Module 0: Clear communication practice and process

Your guide: Karine Nicolay

WHY take this module?

Once you have completed the module, you will be familiar with the clear communication concept and the origin and history of the international clear communication community. You will reflect critically on (the definition of) clear communication and discuss its value. You will get insight into the practice of clear communicators and consider all aspects of their professional process. You will discover the basics of planning and evaluating clear communications, clear writing and designing for clarity by assessing typical professional cases and reflecting on a case familiar to you.

WHAT will you learn and do?

In this module you

  • contribute to the online discussion on the value of clear communication
  • get familiar with the research of clear communication professionals strengthening their case
  • reflect on the clarity of a typical functional document and suggest how to improve it
  • take a ‘webquest’ to gain insight in the international plain language and clear communication communities and how they connect
  • find out what drives clear communicators, what their main activities and obstacles are and what they are striving for
  • introduce a case out of your own (professional) practice and analyze it
  • reflect on what you learned and shape it in an infographic.

Module 1: Planning and evaluating

Your guides and coaches: Ginny Redish, Karen Schriver assisted by Katherine McManus

WHY take this module?

After taking this module, you will be better prepared to plan good content for your audiences and to make sure that it is adapted to their particular needs and interests. In today's modern workplace, planning and evaluating are essential high-level skills all communicators need. Planning is critical. You need to understand why you are communicating, who will read and use what you write, and the context for your communication. Evaluating is also critical. You can use many techniques to find out how well your communication is likely to work for the people who need it.

WHAT will you learn and do?

You will work with specific cases and examples of functional communications (a letter, notice, report, brochure, or website) and you will learn how to plan and evaluate your communications. Specifically you will

  • learn to perform an ‘audience analysis’ to understand the people who may use your communication
  • learn to analyze the situations in which those people read or use your communication
  • learn state-of-the-art methods for evaluating whether your communications are effective for the audiences they are intended to reach
  • practice at least two evaluation techniques: persona-based, scenario-based review and usability testing
  • practice by learning to plan (consider purposes; get data about readers, tasks, and contexts; create personas and scenarios from that data) and evaluate it (observe, listen to, and interview readers; analyze and report on your data).

Module 2: Clear writing

Your guides and coaches: Deborah Bosley, Sandra Fisher-Martins, Frances Gordon, Dominique Joseph

WHY take this module?

At the heart of clear communication is the ability to write strong and compelling texts. In this module, you gain insight into what clear writing is and how to achieve it. You will also learn the elements that make a particular text clear or unclear to its readers.

WHAT will you learn and do?

You will find out about the relationship between clear writing and effective reading. You will learn how to

  • diagnose and fix writing problems that affect clarity
  • write for specific users and purposes
  • balance between business and stakeholder needs
  • apply writing and editing tools and software efficiently.

This is a practical module. You will explore the content through recommended videos, readings and your own research. You will draw on your own experience to identify texts for analysis and intervention, and submit your work for peer review.

Module 3: Design for clarity

Your guide: Martin Foessleitner

WHY take this module?

This module puts a comprehensive focus on the written and graphical aspects of information design. You will explore the practical meaning of context, typography, image and gestalt, data and design process for producing holistic communications beyond the possibilities of text and grammar.

WHAT will you learn and do?

By the end of this module, you will be able to

  • define the term design and a design task
  • investigate, select and seek relevant information
  • probe cultural differences
  • approach a topic without fear using selected methodologies
  • design hierarchy
  • outline the history of typography
  • analyze and select the appropriate typographic choice for a particular situation
  • select the appropriate data for the technology you want to use
  • select an appropriate organizing system for data
  • present data in a strategic, effective, appealing and efficient way
  • recognize the application and effect of Gestalt theory
  • apply universal and barrier free principles of design
  • apply prototyping in the design process
  • assemble a project including all aspects of designing for clarity.

You will explore the subject ‘design for clarity’ through practical examples, case studies and your own research. You will draw on your own experience to identify relevant design aspects of written communication for analysis and intervention and submit your work for peer review.


With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union

Extracted from a document on Google docs, referred on


This article is part of Technical Writers @ Lisbon (June-2014, informal):