Re: Training docs vs. user documentation?

Subject: Re: Training docs vs. user documentation?
From: "Alan D. Miller" <"Alan D. Miller">
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 14:28:43 -0500

Mr Smith wondered <<How do writers typically differentiate training
documentation from user documentation?>>

Geoff Hart answered <<On the whole, both are still forms of user documentation;
they differ largely based on who will be using them and when. Training docs are
intended to get the reader comfortable enough to use the software with a basic
degree of efficiency and (ideally) give the reader the confidence to learn more
things by consulting the user documentation. The user docs, on the other hand,
are what you use once you already know the basics of a product and want to learn
how to do more.>>

In addition to Mr. Hart's answer, I would add that training docs include (and
this list is by no means complete) curriculum plans, lesson plans,
student/trainee texts, instructor's guides, exercise plans, workbooks,
proficiency tests, tutorials (on- and off-line), self-paced instruction (on- and
off-line), supplemental reading/study guides, OJT materials (checklists,
supervisor evaluations, and instructor guides). Not to mention the documentation
associated with the analysis, design, development, review, revision, and
implementation processes themselves. (Sound of large intake of breath.)

This is not to say that user docs are not training docs. They are. They answer
the question, what should the user be able to do? Guess what training docs do?
Right, the very same thing. In general, the training docs are just a bit more
rigorous in defining the learning outcomes (behaviors) and more conscious of the
learning value of every design decision. We make the same decisions (consciously
or unconsciously) when designing and writing a user guide as a training
developer makes.

So, the answer to your question is: we call it a training doc when that's what
it is and a user doc when that's what it is. Take your pick.

Al Miller
alan -dot- miller -at- educate -dot- com

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