Re: Differences between Training guide vs User's Guide

Subject: Re: Differences between Training guide vs User's Guide
From: Steven Brown <stevenabrown -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2005 05:53:20 -0700 (PDT)


You are correct. A training guide should not duplicate
what is in the online help or printed manuals. That's
a complete waste of time and money.

Three, six, twenty-four months from now, your users
will still have access to the online help and the
manuals will likely be at arm's reach. But the
training guides will have been thrown away. And that,
I believe, is the key difference between training and
documentation: training material is used in the
classroom (and maybe shortly thereafter) but the
documenation lives well beyond.

The training or classroom environment is the best
opportunity you'll ever have to actually "require"
your customers to use the documentation. Many people
don't read our documentation because it's unfamiliar,
so you use the training guides and the classroom
experience to emphasize the value and importance of
using the documentation.

The content of the training material should direct the
user to the documentation. Instead of copying huge
chunks of text into a training guide, the guide should
include references such as, "Refer to the procedure on
page 45 of your configuration guide to complete
exercise 7."

The instructor should reinforce this behavior. When
someone asks a question, the instructor should
continually answer with, "Good question. Let's open
the installation manual and see what it says."

This ongoing use will familiarize users with the
documentation. They'll learn how to use the TOC and
index. They'll know how the chapters are organized.
They'll be more likely to use it in the future. (And
-- the scary part for us TWs -- it will highlight
deficiencies in the documenation!)

Steven Brown
Technical Writer

--- Daniel Ng <kjng -at- gprotechnologies -dot- com> wrote:

> Our software system already has a User's Guide or
> online Help (RoboHelp,
> compiled help chm). When writing the Training Guide,
> it seems like I am
> rewriting my user manual all over again except
> - we have screenshots,
> - working in Word.
> - breaking down content to individual job roles
> - small assessment section (a bit unclear)
> I feel uneasy that it may not be a good idea in the
> long term
> (duplicating information). Our users are majority of
> of low education
> (some illilterate), although manager/supervisor
> levels will have no
> problem reading. Though I suspect the training will
> mostly benefit
> supervisors and managers.

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Differences between Training guide vs User's Guide: From: Daniel Ng

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