Lifeology Course Template

Lifeology “flashcard” courses are designed to make science and health information more accessible, memorable and relatable to people through plain language, visuals and inclusive storytelling. Courses can appeal to adults or kids (or both!) based on how they are written and illustrated. They are particularly powerful in engaging underserved audiences through empathetic, culturally relevant storytelling, as well as audiences experiencing low literacy.

Whether you are writing your own Lifeology-powered flashcard course or our Lifeology Content Team is writing it with you or for you, you may need some help getting started! We created a Course Writing Guide and this template to help. (You can access this template as a Google doc for editing here.)

Writing a Lifeology course is a lot like writing a comic or storybook in format – an engaging flow of information is just as important as simple and clear language. All successful courses need a strong logical or narrative flow of information to connect all of the course “cards” together into a larger whole. To ensure that your course covers what you want it to and flows engagingly, plan and outline it before writing the final card “script”!

Course Ingredients

Try to be direct with the title, for example, stating a question that the course will answer. Also, try to avoid jargon in the title. You can also edit this later!

Keep the lay reader in mind – what questions would THEY have about this topic? 

Example: How do I test my blood sugar at home?

In one sentence or phrase, what is your primary communication goal with this course? Another way to write this is, in one sentence, what is the premise of the story you will be writing into the course? 

For example, “Help science communicators how best to prepare for a science-art collaboration” or “Sam, a scientist who wants to collaborate with an artist on a science comic book but is blocked by a previous bad experience, decides to give sci-art collaboration one more shot and realizes the experience can be inspiring and empowering when everyone is prepared and on the same page.”

Who is your desired audience, and do you have an example of an individual within this audience?

Try to answer these questions before you begin writing: Who are you writing this course for? Who are they? What does daily life look like for them? Is there any prior knowledge, concerns, questions, misbeliefs or barriers that should be considered in how the information is presented? Why should they care about this topic?

You may need to do some research or talk to members of your desired audience first!

What will this course cover? What are the most important things you want to communicate or for the audience to glean?

Write down 3-5 primary learning, attitudinal or other outcome objectives for this course – what do you hope the audience walks away with? Keep the list short. Also, keep your audience in mind – what do THEY want to know about this topic and why?

Start to bullet point or write down any key facts or messages that should be included in this course (e.g. “explanation of how white blood cells work in the body”) with links to credible primary sources of information.

What is a potential human-centered story you could embed in this course to deliver the key messages and information? Is there an existing “mental model” (like a Cinderella story, a story of struggle and self-discovery, etc.) that you can use to frame this course to help readers understand the content better? Do you have characters in mind or a “plot,” like an example person learning and experiencing something throughout the course?

The story arc could be realistic and based on the lived experiences of your target audience, but could also be more “fantastic” with generally relatable non-human characters (especially for younger audiences). The story arc can also be more of an analogy or metaphor by which to make the information more relatable, memorable and understandable, or easier to follow (e.g. relating collaborative science writing to quilting). Consider your audience’s culture when considering possible story arcs – is this something they can relate to in their own lives and/or culture? Or are you using a story that might not be relatable to someone from a different country, culture, socioeconomic status, etc.?

Example: The tortoise and the hare; a twist to this story where the race pertains to longevity and the Turtle wins the longevity race by aging slowly thanks to DNA repair.

If you imagine that a primary character in this course is a stand-in for your audience, what is their journey from start to finish? What do they want? What (mis)beliefs do they start with that you can empathize with? What struggles do they face that might prompt them to change their minds or perspective? What do they learn or how are their lives changed? How does the primary character grow and evolve? Consider creating a positive and empowering journey or “arc” for this character in your course.

Suggest a tone for this course, that may be reflected in the storytelling as well as the art. The tone description is helpful to decide on colors, facial expressions, etc., for the characters in the course – are there any special emotional considerations for this topic?

Example: Illustrations can be cute and fun, to offset the sombre subject of aging and make it a more accessible concept to young readers.

What is the setting that the user will be in when consuming this course? Is this course likely to be viewed within a clinical setting / during a patient visit? Is this something that a user will likely consume at home, at his/her own leisure and interest? How/where will the user likely access this course?

This is the “meat” of the Lifeology course! Each main content card has space for a 1:1 image and about 180 characters worth of text. Be as succinct as possible. Avoid adding two cards that essentially say the same thing but in different words (no filler words or sentences!). Each card should communicate one main point that is clear enough for an illustrator with no scientific background to understand it and illustrate, for example. You can add visual ideas for each of your cards as you go.

You can find a demo card script to copy and edit in this google doc!

Provide a list of information sources or additional reading. If you hyperlink sources within the card text, consider linking to open access sources!

Provide a short biography about yourself, a headshot, and your official title and credentials!

Lifeology Course Template

Lifeology “flashcard” courses are designed to make science and health information more accessible, memorable and relatable to people through plain language, visuals and inclusive storytelling. Courses can appeal to adults or kids (or both!) based on how they are written and illustrated. They are particularly powerful in engaging underserved audiences through empathetic, culturally relevant storytelling, as well as audiences experiencing low literacy.

Whether you are writing your own Lifeology-powered flashcard course or our Lifeology Content Team is writing it with you or for you, you may need some help getting started! We created a Course Writing Guide and this template to help. (You can access the template as a Google doc for editing here.)

Writing a Lifeology course is a lot like writing a comic or storybook in format – an engaging flow of information is just as important as simple and clear language. All successful courses need a strong logical or narrative flow of information to connect all of the course “cards” together into a larger whole. To ensure that your course covers what you want it to but also flows engagingly, plan and outline it before writing the final card “script”!

Course Ingredients

Course Title:

Try to be direct with the title, for example, stating a question that the course will answer. Also, try to avoid jargon in the title. You can also edit this later!

Keep the lay reader in mind – what questions would THEY have about this topic?

Example: How do I test my blood sugar at home?

Goal:

In one sentence or phrase, what is your primary communication goal with this course? Another way to write this is, in one sentence, what is the premise of the story you will be writing into the course?

For example, “Help science communicators how best to prepare for a science-art collaboration” or “Sam, a scientist who wants to collaborate with an artist on a science comic book but is blocked by a previous bad experience, decides to give sci-art collaboration one more shot and realizes the experience can be inspiring and empowering when everyone is prepared and on the same page.”

Audience:

Who is your desired audience, and do you have an example of an individual within this audience?

Try to answer these questions before you begin writing: Who are you writing this course for? Who are they? What does daily life look like for them? Is there any prior knowledge, concerns, questions, misbeliefs or barriers that should be considered in how the information is presented? Why should they care about this topic?

You may need to do some research or talk to members of your desired audience first!

Objectives:

What will this course cover? What are the most important things you want to communicate or for the audience to glean?

Write down 3-5 primary learning, attitudinal or other outcome objectives for this course – what do you hope the audience walks away with? Keep the list short. Also, keep your audience in mind – what do THEY want to know about this topic and why?

Example: Cover the concept of biological aging and how it is fundamentally the accumulation of damage and the deterioration of integrated function; but how aging occurs at different rates across the tree of life (and people) and how to age more slowly.

Key Facts, Messages, Sources:

Provide a list of information sources or additional reading. If you hyperlink sources within the card text, consider linking to open access sources!

Story Arc:

What is a potential human-centered story you could embed in this course to deliver the key messages and information? Is there an existing “mental model” (like a Cinderella story, a story of struggle and self-discovery, etc.) that you can use to frame this course to help readers understand the content better? Do you have characters in mind or a “plot,” like an example person learning and experiencing something throughout the course?

The story arc could be realistic and based on the lived experiences of your target audience, but could also be more “fantastic” with generally relatable non-human characters (especially for younger audiences). The story arc can also be more of an analogy or metaphor by which to make the information more relatable, memorable and understandable, or easier to follow (e.g. relating collaborative science writing to quilting). Consider your audience’s culture when considering possible story arcs – is this something they can relate to in their own lives and/or culture? Or are you using a story that might not be relatable to someone from a different country, culture, socioeconomic status, etc.?

Example: The tortoise and the hare; a twist to this story where the race pertains to longevity and the Turtle wins the longevity race by aging slowly thanks to DNA repair.

Character Arc(s):

If you imagine that a primary character in this course is a stand-in for your audience, what is their journey from start to finish? What do they want? What (mis)beliefs do they start with that you can empathize with? What struggles do they face that might prompt them to change their minds or perspective? What do they learn or how are their lives changed? How does the primary character grow and evolve? Consider creating a positive and empowering journey or “arc” for this character in your course.

Tone:

Suggest a tone for this course, that may be reflected in the storytelling as well as the art. The tone description is helpful to decide on colors, facial expressions, etc., for the characters in the course – are there any special emotional considerations for this topic?

Example: Illustrations can be cute and fun, to offset the sombre subject of aging and make it a more accessible concept to young readers.

Setting/Context:

What is the setting that the user will be in when consuming this course?  Is this course likely to be viewed within a clinical setting / during a patient visit? Is this something that a user will likely consume at home, at his/her own leisure and interest? How/where will the user likely access this course?

Card Script:

This is the “meat” of the Lifeology course! Each main content card has space for a 1:1 image and about 180 characters worth of text. Be as succinct as possible. Avoid adding two cards that essentially say the same thing but in different words (no filler words or sentences!). Each card should communicate one main point that is clear enough for an illustrator with no scientific background to understand it and illustrate, for example. You can add visual ideas for each of your cards as you go.

Demo Card Script:

You can find a demo card script to copy and edit in this google doc!

Links and Resources:

Provide a list of information sources or additional reading. If you hyperlink sources within the card text, consider linking to open access sources!

Your Bio:

Provide a short biography about yourself, a headshot, and your official title and credentials!