RE: Using learning theory to build learning documents

Subject: RE: Using learning theory to build learning documents
From: "Rowena Hart" <RHart -at- ACDSystems -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 14:51:45 -0800

Hi folks,

I just spent 3 years studying how people learn and, specifically, how
people learn best online. Every day I was amazed how many of the things
I "learned about learning" could be applied to what we do as technical
communicators. I want to explore how to incorporate learning theory into
technical documents so that they grow beyond just reference documents -
which, as many of you already commented, is how we often *design* our
documents or how customers have *learned to use* our documents.

I'll give you an example:

We know that the majority of people are visual learners. Others learn
best from seeing and doing. Yet we provide most of the information that
our customers need in written form. How about having different options?
Think of the "Was this information helpful?" scales that companies like
Microsoft use to evaluate the effectiveness of knowledgebase articles.
If we know that our customers preferred seeing a procedure why not
provide a "Want to see this procedure in action?" option at the bottom
of a written help file?

Lack of affordable technology used to be the barrier to providing this
kind of multi-media assistance but that is no longer the case. So, with
those barriers gone, how can we evolve our "documentation" to provide
better and alternate learning opportunities?

(For those of you with an instructional design background, yes, the
example I've given doesn't really touch on "learning theory". I just
wanted something bite-sized for people to consider.)

It may also be useful to state my case in a different way. What I'm
really interested in discussing is the "future" of technical
communication and technical documents. How can we evolve our skills
and/or products to help customers use more-and-more complex systems and



> -----Original Message-----
> Rowena: What's the difference between a "learning document"
> and an instruction manual or cookbook or textbook?
> -Andrew
> === Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com === Synaptics, Inc
> - Santa Clara, CA

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