RE: Trn'g Guides/Manuals vs User Guides/Man'ls

Subject: RE: Trn'g Guides/Manuals vs User Guides/Man'ls
From: Steven Schwarzman <StevenS -at- amdocs -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000 17:04:09 -0600

Mario <bogucki91030 -at- yahoo -dot- com> asked:

>How can I sum up in a few sentences the differences
>between training guides and the general user guides?

The purpose of most training, as Walden Miller wrote, is to get the users up
and running so they can perform basic tasks. Full information on all the
glorious features of your system that are not task-based, along with
unimportant tasks and variants of the main tasks, go in the user guides or

Why? Imagine a system with 12 different ways to search for a customer
record. In class, you teach the common ones - probably name and phone number
- and leave the other 10 to the doc. If you dragged your students through
all 12 ways in class, you'd bore them, and make it likely that they would
forget the first 2 ways (the important, common ones). Instead, identify the
commonly used and important stuff, and teach - in the class - how to look up
the rest.

So not all tasks go into training. For those that do, however, there is what
you might call a pedagogical envelope that goes around the procedure steps
that you'd see in a user guide. A lesson in a student workbook can include
contents like these:

* Objectives - "In this lesson, you will learn how to..."
* Overview - where you introduce new concepts, etc.
* Why You Need to Know - my favorite, because it forces you to justify the
lesson content to the users and yourself. If you can't think of a reason,
chances are you need to rework - or trash - the lesson.
* Tasks - the heart of the lesson, with procedures to be demonstrated, then
* Activities - hands-on exercises where students practice what they just
learned on their own.
* Review or quiz - to reinforce and measure learning.

Our lessons also include an instructor guide, to avoid the problem mentioned
by other posters where the instructional designer sloppily relies on the
instructor to "fill in the gaps". What if the instructor doesn't know?

Since you're writing job descriptions, take note of what Thomas Quine wrote
about IDs not making good TWs (and, I add, vice versa). There are people who
can do both, but many TWs have difficulty learning how to construct a lesson
that will engage students, and many IDs come from the soft, mushy world of
HR-style training, and don't know how to handle technical material.

Hope this helps,
Steve Schwarzman

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