Re: Teaming tech writers and instructional designers

Subject: Re: Teaming tech writers and instructional designers
From: Audrey Choden <AChoden -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 10:35:51 -0500

Paul Anderson <indus -at- CANUCK -dot- COM> inquired:

>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?<

As a long time instructional designer, I don't recall seeing anything
recently in the professional journals about this topic (Training Magazine,
Training & Development Journal). In the past, articles
on turf wars between the documentation department and the training
department were common. These articles advocated working
together.

>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.<

It depends on the type of training being developed.
I think this is true for soft skills training which focuses more on
feelings and attitudes rather than skills as in technical training.
However, I'm not sure that the ID team should take the lead
in organizing information for technical training unless they
understand the difference between the two.

Your alternative makes more sense:

>Alternatively (or additionally), a tech writer and an instructional
designer could share the analysis tasks: <snip>
They would then collaborate about evenly on selecting / adapting media
(before the interface is designed, obviously) and drafting the analysis
document.<

Of course, this assumes there is a need to have a tech writer
and a ID working on the project. In many companies, management
would expect the tech writer to learn ID skills (or the ID to learn
tech writing skills) rather than have two separate positions.
That's a whole different topic!

Audrey Choden
Training by Design
5011 West 66th Street
Prairie Village, KS 66208
(Kansas City)

(913) 432-7414
fax: (913) 432-8744
achoden -at- compuserve -dot- com

"Custom course development"
"Search and retrieval of business and
technical course content"

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