Re: The future of tech comm: podcasting? -- YES!

Subject: Re: The future of tech comm: podcasting? -- YES!
From: Brian Gordon <elasticsoul2003 -at- yahoo -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 16:18:01 -0400 (EDT)

In a recent project, I designed several training
course using Norpath Elements Studio. This software is
similar to Macromedia Authorware, in that it allows
the creation of highly interactive online courses.
Users complete fields, click buttons, and so on. The
courses teach the users how to use complicated
Asset/Maintenance Management software.

Another department created several courses using
Macromedia Captivate, and there were also PowerPoint
'courses' floating around.

Users found the highly interactive Norpath courses to
be the most interesting and useful. For example,
employees received an instructor-led course on Topic
X. They didn't really get it. Then they did the
interactive Norpath course and the lights came on.

The PowerPoint courses were boring, because they were
little more than presentations that the learners
watched passively. Feedback on the Captivate courses
was similar, because most of the course time was spent
watching. Retention was also significantly lower.

Why do I bring this up in podcasting? Because
listening or watching have several disadvantages for
instruction or user guides (which are a form of
instruction), when compared to reading:

* It is hard to skim while listening or watching;
you're forced to listen to/view everything.
Fast-forward and you risk missing something.
* It is very hard to know where you are in a video or
audio. You can't jump to a specific location using the
index; you can only jump to scenes. Hit fast forward
or rewind for a where are you?
* Tune out for a second while listening/watching, and
now you have to rewind.
* Listening/watching tend to be passive - reading
engages the brain. Therefore, retention is better, and
the material is less boring.
* Users like having control; watching/listening tends
to be passive.
* Video/audio is much harder and more expensive to
update than text.

There is no question that visual and aural materials
have great value, but I can't see them replacing the
written word any time soon, especially for
instructions. The video instruction guides that used
to come with items requiring assembly never really
caught on.

All the best,


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Re: The future of tech comm: podcasting? -- YES!: From: Bruce Byfield

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