Did you know?

I haven’t blogged this month.  I have been bogged down with loads of work. I guess this is not a reason for not blogging. I just did not have anything to say. It happens sometimes…. you just don’t know what to discuss or write about….

Well, I have been working on a lot of end to end scenario based product tutorials. These are basically text and screenshot based tutorials which teach you how to work with the product. What is nice about these tutorials is that the tutorials are very complete and exciting to take up. At the end of the tutorial you create something real and useful using the product.

When it comes to product tutorials I have always felt that end to end scenario based tutorials are more effective than feature based tutorials. When I say end to end scenario I refer to those tutorials which introduce a scenario and help you create or do something with the product to staisfy the scenario. Feature based tutorials most often focus on just one feature of the product and teach you how to work with it.

For example the Netbeans site has a lot of end to end scenario tutorials. My all time favourite has been the tutorial which teaches you how to create a simple loan processing application using Netbeans. The tutorial is very complete in the sense you do not have to think and create anything on your own. It is complete in itself. The tutorial tell you and gives you everything you need to create the application. You just have to follow the instructions carefully.

Such end to end scenario tutorials are not only useful but very relevant. It tells you how the product can help you solve real problems. Ultimately if you are buying a product, you need to know how it can help you. So I always look at creating end to end scenario based tutorials.

In the Netbeans tutorial that I have referred to, there is no conceptual information given. It is task based. The tutorial introduces a workflow and teaches you how to create the worflow using Netbeans. No concepts have been dealt with in this tutorial.

In the end to end scenario based tutorials I have been creating, I also have to explain the concepts. I do not want to introduce the concepts first, the scenario next and then the  procedure to create the workflow. I am sure none would bother to read loads of factual information in one go.

So what I have been doing is to put the factual information as precise statements with a Did you know? tag , highlight the section and introduce them, wherever relevant, during the course of the tutorial.

I have seen this Did you know? tags in encyclopedia. I find them very cool. They are good enough to grab the learners’ attention.

So my tutorial is complete in every possible way. It not only helps you create something but also tells you what each feature you use is all about.

I am still busy working on my tutorials. I hope the reviewer and the production team likes my idea of Did you know tags 🙂

Please share your views on this post, if you have any…

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6 Responses

  1. yes, it commonly happens that you have nothing to write about. Take a chill pill, because blogging is about fun.Write when you feel like, we are here. 🙂

    Like you, I love “Did you know?” In the current format that I am using, I like to lace it anywhere in the page. I don’t want it to be always in fixed position as I have seen in some course. IT seems like trivial thing but fixation takes fun away from it.

    I have a question, in the task-based scenario in the netbeans (loan processing application creation) link, are there any other things that stand out? I ask this question because usually all technical tutorials are presented same way. Does this page has something special that stands out (something that makes it your favorite 😀 )?

  2. I like it. I’ve been struggling with how to teach vibration analysis online. Requires a lot of conceptual knowledge. I think what you’ve described will work. Thanks.

  3. Hi Poonam,

    You will find lots of technical tutorials presented in the same fashion. But you will find very few which are complete. Most often when you try to execute a tutorial, you are likely to face lots of problems. You might get stuck at a place and might not be able to proceed further due to erroneous instructions or missing information.

    Every little detail has been mentioned in the Netbeans tutorial. All files necessary to create the application is available for download and if you notice towards the close of the tutorial the code has also been given to run the application. The Netbeans tutorial does not assume that the user might know certain things.

    Most tutorials assume that the user can manage . For example if a tutorial requires the user to create an XML schema for a specific scenario. The tutorial might just say create an XML schema, assuming that the user will know how to create an XML schema and will be able to create one to suit the scenario.

    Tutorials like the one you have for Netbeans will give the user the conents of the XML schema that he needs to create.

    That really makes a difference!

    Hope I am clear:)

  4. Hi Rupa….I agree with you. Including the files necessary to complete the tasks does make a difference. I have done something similar in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, in which the tutorial included the data sets and other files needed to complete the tasks.

    I also really like end-to-end scenarios…especially for someone who is new to the task. But sometimes a learner may just want quick instructions on a specific task or feature. Maybe she has done the tutorial before and forgot something, or maybe they are already familiar with most of the process. In this case, I like to somehow provide optional links that go strait to feature-based instructions and not force the learner to scroll through a long tutorial.

    Thanks for a nice post!!

  5. @Rupa: Thanks for the explanation. I agree with your points, it could have only been pointed out by someone who has experience of working with tutorials.

    @Kevin: I like your suggestion a lot. Actually yes there are times we just want to refer instructions. I guess quick links to topics should help.

  6. Hi Rupa,

    Been quite long since I even checked your page.

    “Did you know” is a favorite with me too. I discovered that it has immense potential to raise curiosity levels in an otherwise drab course. I try and introduce it at all apt places in my e-learning courses. With e-learning, you have the luxury of adding graphic effects to them too 🙂

    Keep blogging.

    Regards,
    Indu

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