Re: Learning styles for technology audiences

Subject: Re: Learning styles for technology audiences
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:31:57 -0500

On Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:38:43 -0500, Sarah Lee Hauslinger <slhauslinger -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

To make a case for using video as an additional learning resource instead
of a replacement for context-sensitive UI Help, I'm looking for information
on the percentages of technology users who are visual, textual, auditory,
and kinesthetic learners.

Well, back in the dark, or rather the dim ages, when video presentations were done with whiteboard and talking heads, I did a short video for a overwhelmingly complicated text-editing program. There were 80 command-line commands. The best part of the video was where I explained, right at the beginning, that 15 or fewer of the commands were useful, and the rest could be totally ignored. I provided a handout with only the useful commands, each of which I explained briefly in the video. In passing I did mention how certain of the other commands were harmful. The company used that video for new-hires for years. It allowed people to bypass most of the frighteningly complicated user manual.

Right now I'm taking a "boot-camp" course that is on video. It includes pointers to downloadable text. Small portions of it contain talking heads, and those parts are slightly annoying because the lip movements are out of sync with the voice. Personally I like to learn via a mix of modes, and do not regard myself as one particular type of learner, although I tend to fall into slumber at lectures delivered by boring speakers.(*) I like to stop the video, try some of the exercises, discover that I know the stuff already, skip ahead, rebuild some of my software tools, and then go back to the video.

My recommendation? Try to avoid using only video for instructions. Just as it is very easy to publish a corrected version of an on-line manual that had errors, and difficult to correct a printed manual (generally with update sheets or "errata" pages), it can be insanely difficult to create an updated video and then replace the old version with it. Others have addressed the difficulty of locating particular topics, there being no index.

(*) At church one fine Sunday:
- "Billy, you must be quiet in church."
-- "But why, mommy, why?"
- "Well, it's because..."
-- "Oh, I know, I know! Because people are sleeping."
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