5.1. Writing Concept Topics

Concept topics answer “Why?” and What is…?” questions. Concept topics build on existing audience knowledge to provide general explanations, background information, and examples to help the reader understand a feature or task.

Concept topics explain abstract ideas and introduce terminology. Concept topics tend to be relatively unaffected by feature enhancements over time: while additions might be needed to support new options and their use cases, they tend to require less rewriting than task topics.

Concept topics are typically followed by at least one task topic. When they introduce complex features, they can be followed by a set of additional concept topics and related task topics.

5.1.1. Structuring a Concept Topic

At a minimum, a concept topic includes the following components.

  • A title, phrased as a gerund.

  • One or more body paragraphs.

It can also include the following additional structured information.

  • One or more examples.

  • Two or more subsections, marked by subheadings.

  • A list of related topics.

For more information, see {Using this Concept Template} or its source concept_template.rst file.

5.1.2. Example Concept Topics

The Building and Running an edX Course guide contains these examples of concept topics.

  • Using Cohorts in Your Courses introduces a complex topic. It includes several subsections to divide the concept into different facets. A list of related tasks is included at the beginning to redirect readers who might not need this background information.

  • Develop a Positive Discussion Culture uses examples to define the concept of a positive discussion culture, and then offers a concrete example of actions to take for each one. This topic also provides a link to a related template.

  • Using the Course Wiki introduces a section of related concepts and tasks. It defines a wiki in the context of an edX course, and provides example uses.