Re: Creating on-line tutorials

Subject: Re: Creating on-line tutorials
From: Gregory P Sweet <gps03 -at- health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us>
To: "Sonja McShane" <sonjamcshane -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 10:27:36 -0400


First do not short yourself on time. Quality e-learning has a ratio of
about 200:1, hours of dev time to hours of finished course. And a Brandon
Hall study found that ratio to actually be between 750:1 to 1300:1 when the
simulation is a custom build.

What you need to do and how long it will take is really going to depend on
what your goals are. If you are not practiced in writing learning
objectives check out Bloom's Taxonomy for help in crafting the objectives.
Next decide on what activities & features you need to include to get the
objectives across to various learners. See for an explanation of learning

Once you have your objectives and have decided on what activities &
features to include, start writing your script. What is the story that gets
your learning objectives across? If you are using an audio track
_write_every_word_ the voice talent will record.

With script finished, draw your storyboard. You can use PPT or some such
software if you must but pad & pencil are still the tools of choice for
most of the e-learning pros I know. Don't skip this step, a solid
storyboard will find holes and flow problems much more quickly, easily, and
cheaply than finding them after you've packaged up your "completed" course,
or worse after you've made the course available to learners.

With the storyboard completed, record your script (if you are planning a
voice over). Capture your screens while listening to the voice-over play
back. It is much easy to capture screens at the pace of a speaker than to
try to shoe-horn the voice recording into the screen captures. At this
point you may find something that doesn't quite work and you may need to
re-script and re-record parts of the voice over. Incidentally, if you are
planning a voice-over DO NOT put the text of the voice over on screen.
People cannot read and listen and follow the mouse action at the same time.
They'll end up pay divided attention to all of it and learning none. It's
OK and even preferable to provide options to either see or hear the text,
but not at the same time. CC on video is a entirely different matter and
serves a entirely different purpose.

This is an iterative process, so expect to go through several rounds of
scripting and storyboarding before you get to recording anything.

When it comes to designing your inteface/navigation/etc. all the same
design, usaubility & QA rules that apply to other software apply to your
course as well.

I apologize that I cannot point you to anything I've produced (it's all
proprietary), however Total Training ( has
some of the most beautifully done courses I've ever seen.


techwr-l-bounces+gps03=health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com wrote on
08/26/2008 09:25:08 PM:

> Hi everyone,
> Time to 'unlurk' and ask for help, please! I need to create some
> using MadCap Mimic, about my company's software products. I think I could
> probably do a reasonable job with what I already know about tech writing,
> but I really want these tutorials to be outstanding.
> I've done some preliminary searching for information about creating
> tutorials and what makes a good tutorial, but oddly enough there doesn't
> seem to be much around. I'd really appreciate it if anyone could pass on
> any:
> - tips about writing tutorials
> - 'gotchas' I should know about
> - links to examples of excellent online, interactive tutorials
> (preferably explaining how to use software)
> - links to how to write tutorials
> - 'pet peeves' about tutorials you've used in the past.
> If you could please send the details to me at sonja -dot- mcshane -at- str -dot- com -dot- au,
> and I'll post a summary in the next few days.
> Thanks very much,
> Sonja
> Sonja McShane
> Senior Technical Writer
> Space-Time Research Pty Ltd
> Level 1 630 Church Street
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Creating online tutorials: From: Sonja McShane

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