Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tutorial Karma

All of the bad interactive tutorial things I have ever built have come back to haunt me.

As part of my new job learning, I am working through the tutorials for the university's enterprise system.

Oh....My....God.......Is this what I'm doing to my audience?!?!?!

While going through the introductory tutorial (which took me about 2 hours), I noticed that I was trying to "game the system." to get through it. I also found myself becoming more aggravated as I worked through the tutorial. I don't think this is the emotional response the instructional designer or eLearning developer had in mind.

I was dismayed by my reaction. What caused it? The eLearning Developer took time to create these tutorials and worked very hard to make the tutorials themselves very user friendly so the student could focus on the material. He or she also had some strong Authorware chops, judging from some of the interactivity.

In comparison, I looked at one of the tutorials JM built before he left. It was a straight movie, but I found it infinitely more useful and engaging.


Here's what I think:

1) Audience - trying to please multiple audiences means that you please no one (best case) or confuse them (worst case). JM's tutorial had a distinct audience - the university's end user. The vendor tutorial tried to provide end-user training + information for the developers so they could make configuration decisions. They should have been treated separately, especially since 98% of the end users will not have control over how the system is configured.

2) Context - context gives the audience something to relate to. As a result, they are more likely to pay attention. The vendor is at a disadvantage here since they have to focus on the most general workflow. JM could build things that are very specific to the organization. That's to be expected.

In one of the tutorials, the vendor provided a general workflow for application processing (student applies to school, information entered into system using x form, etc). Fine. But then they quizzed me on it. Uh - what if my university has different practices.

I would rather the vendor focus on how their application behaves rather than telling me how to do business unless there is a very specific technical reason why I have to do something a certain way. Oh - and tell my WHY it's best this way. It's something I've done for my students. Why can't the vendor do it for us? It will save a lot of heartache on all sides. (I think this has to do with the "sales function" a lot of vendor-supplied training has to perform.....)

Wendy begins her climb to the top of her soapbox....

3) I hate multiple choice questions for assessing application training - There, I said it. I say this in person and I'm saying it here: A, B, C, or D - which tab do you click does NOT tell me whether the person knows how to use the program (or even where that tab is located). It does not tell me whether the person will be accurate or efficient using the program once they leave my tutorial. So WHY ARE WE STILL BUILDING THIS TYPE OF ASSESSMENT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Yes, I KNOW they are easier to build. But with some of the tools we have at our disposal (Captivate does have easy click boxes. And Captivate 2 and 3 have easy ways to administer this interactivity) - can't we score THAT instead? You can include click boxes in the Quiz results..... We can even use the text entry in the Quiz results!!!!!!

The crazy woman on the soapbox begins jumping up and down....

4) If you are going to provide a demonstration of a workflow, then have me "practice" - at least make the example in the practice different. This is what triggered me to "game the system." As soon as I realized the demonstration was the EXACT SAME THING as the practice, I looked for ways to avoid the demonstration.


Yes, I know this won't be popular with our audience - but if we're gonna start encouraging "learning" in our charges - the least we can do is make them use their brain a little.

5) If you are going to have me interact with the program - at least give me a scenario rather than have me press buttons at random. I went through 5 practice exercises where I was pressing buttons at random. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. There was no workflow or particular reason. The buttons I pushed didn't accomplish anything. I finished that tutorial more confused about how the application worked than when I started.

I don't think that's what the instructional designer had in mind.

Wendy steps off her soapbox.

I am going to continue torturing myself with the vendor tutorials as I prepare for some of my projects. I hope I don't wind up boring/aggravating my students the same way....


DrBob said...

happy Xmas.. or thanksgiving..whatever you have there

~My prejudice on this is to favour the short movie approach (using Camtasia).. I find that three short (less than five minute) high impact "videos" are a lot more effective than workthroughs. You can see an example (HTML editor) on my Facebook page.

Also you then offer a student choice. If you have a small armory of videos - each addressing one key point of understanding - then the students can watch with a need to know attitude.

Even more attractive is response to feedback. If a student asks a good questions - I may screencast it up... they love that.. :)

Janet said...

Been least you recognize it.

Love the 'Oh....My....God.......'

Wouldn't it be cool if there were a button on bad tutorials labeled just that?The...'Oh....My....God.......(somebody kill me)' button.

I think a lot of the time it's all about resources. I recall doing a bunch of Captivate emulations and just could not find to do the simulation portion given deadlines. Very frustrating to put out work that you know can be better.