The goal of all information and learning design is to get the learner from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible.

My work involves getting clear on where learners are starting from and where they want (or need) to get to — and then developing effective and innovative strategies to help them achieve their goals.

My main focus is working with authors of non-fiction books. I also work on online courses and software training/support content.

Key ideas

The methodology I use draws on lessons gained from the jobs to be done model, cognitive psychology and ideas about organising knowledge effectively.

Jobs to be done model

The jobs to be done model can be used to understand particular groups of learners — and their problems and goals.

Having this information allows content to be specifically targetted towards learner needs. It also enables content to be targetted to the motivations of learners.

Cognitive psychology

Understanding how the brain works is critical for effective information and learning design.

An understanding of the limitations of working memory and the process by which knowledge and skills get trans-ferred into long-term memory are just two of the areas that need to be taken into account.

Knowledge organisation

Making sure that knowledge is organised well is critical for learning but something that is often neglected.

It is important to ensure clear and logical structuring, the proper sequencing of content and an effective relationship between the big picture and the detail.

My methodology

I have developed a detailed methodology that I apply to the projects I work on.

The key points of difference with many writing models include:

1. A focus on understanding more about the target audience including their needs and circumstances – and what the reader goals are.

2. A focus on developing a learning strategy that will help readers get from Point A to Point B – from where they are now to where they want to be, in terms of knowledge and skills.

3. A focus on applying this strategy to all the different aspects of a book’s structure using the knowledge organisation hierarchy.

I believe it’s critical to help writers focus on doing significant preparatory work before they start writing.

Main areas of work

My main focus is working with authors of non-fiction books. Many readers complain about problems they have in understanding and remembering the non-fiction books that they read.

However these problems are rarely addressed. We have become so used to the current format of non-fiction books that it’s become hard to envisage an alternative way of doing things.

However that’s exactly what I offer the authors that I work with – a different approach to non-fiction books that draws on the lessons of cognitive psychology and effective knowledge organisation.

I also work on online courses and software training/support content.

Further reading

The articles and papers I have written can be found here. My blog posts can be found here. Some of the key themes I write about can be found in the papers and blog posts below.

Organising Knowledge
with Multi-level Content

The paper looks at two of the key problems for learners and those who want to communicate knowledge, which are the problem of structure and the problem of multiple knowledge levels.

To address them, I explain the need for texts to include diagrams that show structure and summaries on different knowledge levels.

Read more

In Defence of Summaries: A response to Iain McGilchrist’s critique

There’s an argument that summaries can be detrimental becuase they exclude too much nuance, richness and implicit knowledge.

In this article, I argue that it’s critical that readers have access to both summaries and the detail. That gives them the ability to choose what level of detail that they want.

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The Power of Diagrams

Diagrams can do what text can’t: show the relationship between ideas and concepts at a glance. Diagrams also force writers to condense the complexity of their thinking into a simpler essence.

The article gives examples of some skilled communicators who have used diagrams to explain their ideas. 

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‘This paragraph is very important’: The role of attention devices in non-fiction books

All books have key passages that readers need to pay attention to if they are to properly understand the meaning of a book.

In this blog post, I argue that it’s important that author highlight these key passage so that readers can’t miss them. I also give examples of two writers who have used attention devices in interesting ways.

Read more

Comments on my Organising Knowledge paper

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Get in touch

Please have a look around the site and read some of the papers, articles and blog posts. Then, if you would like to explore working with me or have any questions or comments, please send me a message.