Teaming tech writers and instructional designers

Subject: Teaming tech writers and instructional designers
From: Paul Anderson <indus -at- CANUCK -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 10:54:27 -0700

Hello all. I've done a preliminary search in the archives and turned up
nothing on instructional design or designers, so I'll plunge ahead at
the risk of unravelling an old thread.

I'm currently consulting for the instructional design department of a
large corporation. Without wanting to, they find themselves becoming a
de facto publishing house -- not only producing but maintaining an
ever-growing series of training manuals, technical brochures and job
aids. One of the change models I'd like to introduce is teaming
instructional designers with technical writers. The writers would
ultimately take responsibility for producing the documentation to the
designers' specs, freeing up the instructional designers to concentrate
on changing worker behaviours by experimenting with a wide range of
delivery and tracking strategies. This is, after all, the work they are
trained to do.

As an intermediate step, I'd thought to establish the distinction
between documenting change and changing behaviours ... by having a
document production team produce the 'textbook' and having the ID team
design the prototype (though not the final document) for the companion
'instructor's package'.

This way, the hard production slogging would have been done
(illustrations, scans, photos, style guides, file formatting and
archiving, amendment control) for the ID team to use in their prototype.
Once fleshed out, the prototype would be handed back to the same team
that produced the textbook.

Query 1: *Sharing the Work*
Is anyone out there familiar with resources / studies / flow charts /
job aids on the partnering of technical writers and instructional
designers?

Query 2: *Conceiving the Work in Different Ways*
The head of the local university's instructional design department
points out that technical writers tend to structure and cue information
differently from the way ID people do. I'd like to know more. If true,
the point suggests to me that if the overall purpose is to change
behaviours, the instructional design team should take the lead in
sequencing and chunking the information before the technical writers
take over.

Alternatively (or additionally), a tech writer and an instructional
designer could share the analysis tasks:
ID takes the lead (in consultation with the technical writer) for

* learner / reader / analysis
* concept analysis
* selecting delivery strategy
* setting performance objectives

Technical writer takes the lead (in consultation with instructional
designer) for

* task analysis
* environmental / context analysis
* designing the user interface

They would then collaborate about evenly on selecting / adapting media
(before the interface is designed, obviously) and drafting the analysis
document.

Anyone have any resources or notions they'd care to share on this?

thanks in advance,

Paul Anderson
indus -at- canuck -dot- com

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