atw: Re: The next question. [Moving on from "Should we always give users what they ask for?"]

Christine,

 

You are over-complicating things. Yes, I know that comprehension is only one
part of the chain of things that leads to practical knowledge. But it is an
important part. Let's concentrate on that first and worry about application
later. (Application is irrelevant if comprehension doesn't exist.) 

 

So, again, what do we do, as a profession, to assess the comprehension
rating of one medium over another? To say that one medium "has the ability
to do the job in a range of real or simulated situations" doesn't give us
much to go on. (How well does it do the job relative to other media?) I
mentioned in a post that comprehension is often measured by asking readers
questions about text they are asked to read. Has anyone done such studies to
compare, say, online tutorials with paper procedures or with traditional
online help? Has anyone tested the comprehension rating of wiki-delivered
material versus other media? And so on and so on. The more general question
is this: if comprehension ratings are important, as I'm suggesting they are,
are we giving them sufficient attention?

 

Cheers

 

 

Geoffrey Marnell

Principal Consultant

Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd

T: +61 3 9596 3456

F: +61 3 9596 3625

W:  <http://www.abelard.com.au> www.abelard.com.au

  _____  

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christine Kent
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 2:49 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: The next question. [Moving on from "Should we always give
users what they ask for?"]

 

Simple - the ability to do the job in a range of real or simulated
situations.

 

"Comprehension" as a word relates only to intellectual awareness.  It is
only part of any learning story.  Can the person who comprehends DO anything
in a given situation as a result of that comprehension?  Further, can they
extrapolate and apply the "comprehension" across a range of new situations.

 

Use it or lose it.

 

Christine

 

 

 

 

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey Marnell
Sent: Monday, 9 March 2009 2:38 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: The next question. [Moving on from "Should we always give
users what they ask for?"]

 

Hi austechies,

 

Peter Martin, Michael Lewis and Rhonda Bracey have offered good reasons why
we might want to, or need to, opt for paper over online delivery of
documentation. There are many others I could add to the mix (including that
for some types of documentation, online delivery is illogical-take computer
disaster recovery procedures, for instance-and that for some products we
write about, there is simply no practical interface for online delivery).

 

But I didn't particularly want to introduce these other reasons. They would
have, and have, splintered the debate into something else: a debate about
paper versus online. I am much more interested in a more fundamental
question, which I was hoping my initial posting would have answered: Do
technical writers agree that the comprehension rating of a delivery medium
should be a factor in deciding whether that medium should be adopted? And
then, if I got a postive answer to that question, I was going to ask what
techncial writers are doing to assess the comprehension ratings of a
delivery media they choose (since without some rigorous assessment of that
sort, might it not be that we are giving our users less than optimal
documentation). 

 

So, now that we've had such a lively debate over the first issue, let's have
some lively debate over this new issue: what do you do to assess the
comprehension rating of the media you choose (or what should we do)?

 

Cheers

 

 

Geoffrey Marnell

Principal Consultant

Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd

T: +61 3 9596 3456

F: +61 3 9596 3625

W:  <http://www.abelard.com.au> www.abelard.com.au

 

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