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tech comm – elearning – information experience


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soap! conference Krakow round-up

Chalk board at soap! conferencesoap! is a technical communication conference for all stakeholders in this industry. The audience was a mix of writers, editors, UX, engineers, product managers, and translators. I met lovely people from start-ups and multi-nationals from all over Central and Eastern Europe.

Techwriter.pl has a great write-up of the conference on their blog. It’s in Polish, but Google Translate does a pretty good job. The conference sessions were all in English over a two-day period, with the exception of one workshop run in Polish on the first evening.

This post hooks you up with some of the presentations from day 2. My previous post gives you a taste of day 1.

Rahel Bailie of Intentional Design presented the keynote, Do You Trust Me Now? Creating technical content in the age of social media. New vocab and things to think about: edutainment = elearning with entertainment elements; ephemeral content for business use; and putting the customer at the centre of omnichannel experiences.

The day then split into two tracks. I followed Ray Gallon, who talked about using content and tech comm to build a better end-to-end customer experience. He mentioned Tin Can API as an interesting “lightweight SCORM” development. If elearning is your thing, it’s worth checking out.

Noz Urbina‘s Messages for your manager about content covered a lot more than the title suggests. On one level, it was about the language you use when pursuing content strategy within your organisation’s overall business strategy. Somehow within 35 minutes, Noz also layered in a tour of modern content architecture, examples of metadata in action, and an inspiring pep-talk for tech comm professionals.

Agnieszka Tkaczyk told her team’s story about getting started with infographics at IBM and the lessons learned along the way. Two 3’s to remember: infographics work well as stories with an introduction, a middle, and an end; and they usually include three components – a data visualisation (e.g. chart), an image, and text. In tech comm, they may not substitute detailed instructions, but they help draw the user in. However, enterprise audiences beware – they can be perceived as not “serious” enough!

soap conference soap

soapy giveaways

This was only the second year of soap! and it has doubled in size and duration. At under GBP 100 it is great value-for-money.

More importantly, soap! is an enthusiastic, optimistic, and very friendly meeting of tech comm minds. Big thanks to the soap! team for all the hard work and fun.

 


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The 5 minute eLearning script planner

“We want more help and training as video content, and we want it fast!”

Take a 2-3 minute “how to” tutorial video with voice over as an example. Writing a script has lots of benefits including keeping your video short and on-task. A good quality script comes from a good plan for what you want your video to achieve.

Let’s get visual

I have adapted an excellent teaching resource, The 5 minute Lesson Plan by Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit), to plan the script. You can download the original from Ross’s blog. This is how it looks, completed, in about 5 minutes.

Image of 5-minute planner

These steps look arduous when you write them in a list, like I have below. That is the beauty of the visual style of this planner. If you respond well to the visual layout, the ideas flow quickly – we are looking for bullets and key words to crystallize your plan.

  • The BIG picture – where does this fit into the video series, learning stage, or overall theme. The big picture answer to “why should I spend 2 minutes of my time on this?”.
  • Objectives – at a lower level, what do you want this specific video to achieve, what I will have learnt after watching it?
  • Engagement – what’s the hook to keep people watching after the first few seconds?
  • Stickability – what techniques can you use to reinforce learning and make it last?
  • AfL – Stands for “assessment for learning”. How can you measure that your video has been successful and that the person watching it is in a better place after watching than before?
  • Words along the way – terminology which may be new to the audience, and/or important to the overall understanding of the topic
  • Differentiation – ignore the levels here, they relate to the UK National Curriculum. But still a good one to consider. How have you handled different levels of prior knowledge and technical ability?
  • Learning Episodes (x4) – you don’t have to use all of these. They are useful to help you to split up “concept” and “task-based” sections of the video, and can map to what you wrote in Objectives.

Moving from plan to execution

If this approach works for you, and you are using a tool like Captivate, you may want to go straight into it and write the full text for your script slide-by-slide using the Text-To-Speech/Closed Captions feature. You can then export to get the full script reviewed. Alternatively, write out the full script in a storyboard style with placeholder graphics and graphic directions.

Whichever approach you take, the idea is to refer back to your visual plan to keep your full text script as tight and relevant as it can be.

Would this planner help you? Do you have other techniques or tools which work well for you?