Re: The origins of task-oriented writing as a preference

Subject: Re: The origins of task-oriented writing as a preference
From: Harry Hager <hhager -at- dttus -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, mxd2 -at- osi -dot- com
Date: 31 Jan 2000 08:34:25 -0600


You don't really believe that task-oriented writing is mainly for
"computer-illiterated users" do you? You're just being provocative,

Task-oriented writing and teaching is not a new and it is not even a
recent phenomenon.

People learn by doing. Educators have known this for generations.

Task-oriented writing predates Word and Quicken by many, many, many
years. In fact, task-oriented writing and teaching predates computers.

I was doing task-oriented writing and teaching to end users of
computer software in the 1960's while I was in the U.S. Air Force.
When I went a U. S. Air Force computer instructor training course in
the 60's, the task-oriented approach was the approach taught.

The U. S. military training for its various equipment and systems were
very much task-oriented long before computers.

I'd bet that the training and any written instructions the Roman
legions received was very much task-oriented. They didn't want to read
a reference manual about their swords and shields; they wanted to know
how to use them to accomplish their tasks at hand.

So, what all this amounts to is that the proven technique of
task-oriented writing and training (learn by doing) was adopted by
writers and trainers of computers software. Why? Because it works.

Jim Hager

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: The origins of task-oriented writing as a preference
Author: mxd2 -at- osi -dot- com at Internet-USA
Date: 1/28/00 3:24 PM

Our management has discovered we need "task-oriented" writing rather
than "reference-oriented" writing in our manuals.

IMHO, the impetus toward task-oriented writing began with popularly
available software (Word, Quicken, etc.), and is focussed on a large
audience of relatively computer-illiterated users. The "For Dummies"
books also address this audience.

Can anyone tell me the origins of this movement toward task-orientation
in writing?

Has anyone had any experience surveying computer-savvy users of more
complicated software (like ours) to see whether they want tasks or
reference information?


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-- Technical Publications
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