Re: Does learning get in the way? (was: Teaching without seeming to teach!, which was: Lowest Common Denominator/Reading to Learn)

Subject: Re: Does learning get in the way? (was: Teaching without seeming to teach!, which was: Lowest Common Denominator/Reading to Learn)
From: Scott Miller <smiller -at- PORTAL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:15:39 -0700

>>>>>
...how do we communicate concepts to
people who don't want to be bothered with them so that they
have the knowledge they need to be reasonably competent in
an unfamiliar domain?
<<<<<

In online help, there are many devices we use for dealing with
conceptual information, for example:

- Separating concept topics from procedure topics.

- Clearly identifying concept topics and procedure topics, for example,
using concept topic titles that start with "About..." or "Overview."

- Using hard-to-resist topic titles for important concept topics, for
example, "What you need to know before creating an iguana."

- Providing links to concept topics at the beginning of procedure
topics. This is especially true when the underlying concept is unusual,
or if there are really crucial things you need to know before starting a
procedure.

- Structuring the Contents logically by grouping concepts and their
related tasks.

- Including snippets of concepts in unobtrusive ways, for example, by
using popup windows for definitions in procedures.

- In concept discussions, always emphasizing what's in it for the user.
Concepts are there to help accomplish goals, not to provide information
just for the sake of knowledge.

- Writing about the concepts that are important, and not discussing
concepts that they don't need to know. This often means ignoring the
demands of an engineer, to whom all the underlying mechanics are
important.

- Designing the help system to support procedure topics and
context-sensitive help first and foremost. A user who gets what they
need from a help system right away will go back to it, maybe even so far
as to looking up conceptual information.

---------------------------
- Scott Miller
smiller -at- portal -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=




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