Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Rethinking user education materials a bit

Am consciously neglecting this blog: a lot on at work, much of which is pretty grim, and other stuff I need to get to grips with. Let's try and find something positive to say for myself.

A chance online encounter prompted Ian Stringer to ask if he could come and have a chat with me about some work he and his son Paul are doing. It was an opportunity for Paul to have a look at a library management system and have an overview of how we use it. Classic Dynix is absolutely not what you would use as the textbook example of a modern LMS but it does what it does pretty well on the whole for the purposes of illustration. It's a shame that they hadn't come along a few weeks ago when I still had the schematic for the customer interface on the whiteboard. They went away happy. It turned out that this was a useful meeting for me, too. I needed to be reminded that I do actually know a few things.

I'd intended to spend this afternoon drawing pictures of a learning session, or programme of sessions, on the theme "Online reading for people without e-readers." It's an idea I've been kicking round the office for a couple of weeks: the majority of our various how-to-use-the-internet sessions and programmes are geared towards helping people learn how to use the hardware and software and not towards what you might want to do with them, except in a generally cursory fashion. My argument was that a lot of our customers wouldn't see themselves as being in the market for signing up for a Myguide session, say, but could well be interested in finding out more about things that interest them on the web. Signing up for Myguide would then be a way of helping them get more out of an existing interest rather than requiring a new interest in computers. So I was asked to put my typing finger where my mouth is and sketch out the learning paths.

That was the intention. So of course I followed an interesting-looking link a couple of people had flagged up on Twitter and the next thing I knew I'd signed myself up on xtranormal, spent a couple of minutes getting my head round the instructions and within half an hour I had this, admittedly very clunky, bit of user education video about how to renew your library loans. It wouldn't do for most of our audiences, especially in this state, but I can see some mileage in our putting together a few short, snappy "informercials" for younger (or dafter) audiences. Especially as it really is very easy to put together.

This in turn opened up a few more possibilities which, together with my getting my head around's new link bundling tool, means I'll probably need a bigger bit of paper to scribble on. Once I've started to define the shape of the work I'll do a tidier version on Prezi to share the details with colleagues at work.

I'll get it done tonight. There's a pile of crap on the telly.

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