"Teaching" wizards?

Subject: "Teaching" wizards?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 10:32:07 -0600

George Hayhoe responded to my comments on wizards by noting that
<<...wizards are an effective way to help users perform tasks, but
the wizard implementations I've seen don't really teach people
how to perform the task without the wizard's help. Further, a wizard
doesn't teach the underlying concept; it just steps the user through
the task.>>

True enough, but the problem is with the implementation, not with the
technology itself. Compare, for example, the following two wizards:

To create a new file:
1. Open the file menu. [click]
2. Select "new" [click]
3. Name the file. [type]


To create a new file:
1. Open the file menu. [click]
Most commands related to files are under the File menu.
2. Select "new" [click]
See the "^N" beside that menu choice? That's a shortcut, and it
means you can avoid the whole menu simply by typing Control-N.
3. etc.

As I noted before, anyone who prefers the wizard's help can ignore
the indented comments and simply focus on the numbered steps; anyone
interested in learning can read enough to eventually avoid the wizard
entirely. We've done the same trick with printed docs for years,
and it works just fine.

Since the goal is to both do and teach, I'd propose calling this a
"mentor"(TM)... and remember, <Fe> you heard it here first and can't
use the name without my permission! </Fe>
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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