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We specialize in technical e-learning courses such as software tutorial or technician certification training; therefore technical writing is – or can be – a part of what we can help you with. Marc Lee, our president, has been a technical writer and we are happy to consider your technical communication situation from the ground up including your documentation and courseware. Often we start a course development by using your existing technical content, currently in company technical publications such as manuals, schematics and functional specs. At other times, we might have to work on your background content first before transformation to e-learning.
What are the signs that your technical content needs preliminary work on consistency, order and structure before we can try transformation?
- Inconsistent or out-of-date procedures turn up on associates’ or techs’ desktops
- No one can find the original or latest version of a document
- No central location exists for procedures
- No standard nomenclature exists for titles of manuals or for standards and practices
- A general sense of disorder pervades the publications used
If you are interested in persuing e-learning but are not sure of your content’s level of readiness, we can help with the following:
- Review and assessment of your existing documentation
- Research within and around your existing documents for the hidden structure that’s waiting to be brought out
- Revision of your hard copy documentation
We have experience in the following types of manuals for
- Software user guides
- Software system administration
- Software system requirements
- API documentation
- Software marketing collateral
- System administration guides
- Design specifications
- Technical network or IT
Additionally, we have experience and expertise to prepare the following types of manuals for computer hardware:
- Electronics and device repair
- Troubleshooting and theory of operation
- Board and chip specifications
- System description and design
MLMultimedia’s services for online courseware start with your need to communicate some content. Either you have existing courseware, a computer-based training (CBT) project, or existing live classroom course material that needs to be converted or updated or you have an idea for a course you would like to create. Once we see the level of completeness/readiness in the content you have, we would then come up with a plan to proceed. The steps in the plan can include:
- A functional specification of the course or module
This consists of recommended details of presentation and interface. In this document we describe the presentation means (will it include an audio track, will video be used, will the student achievement in the subject matter be assessed and recorded and the like)
- A content specification for the course or module
The content specification is something that we have come to rely on to give a quick start to a project. Often, everyone has agreed to get started. But where do we actually start? We write the content spec based on whatever the current state of your material is – whether an older, existing CBT, notes from a live, classroom course, product documentation, etc. If necessary we will do the research ourselves to make sure there is substantive material in the proposed course. With this in hand, we then do our work and, in about a week, it’s done. When it is, it gives the reader a clear idea of what the course will look and ‘feel’ like. We organize your material into a series of logical modules, units and lessons and lay that out in the content spec. The spec also gives a sense of the pace and style of the course — will it be extremely technical, conversational, interactive, game-like and so forth.If you would like to see an example of one of these specs, leave a reply at the bottom of this page. We’ll be in touch.
- A prototype of your course
Here we would include the interface design we recommend (based on your input) plus a small amount (one lesson or screen’s worth)
We would then go through a review and approval process and proceed to complete your course.
Before the course is complete, however, there are several steps to be sure your course works as intended:
We organize a group review, checking and validating each detail in a live demo, or we send copies out to a select few principals. Any changes needed are made.
- Beta release
We put an ‘as complete as possible’ version on a beta server (either yours or ours) and solicit users to take it and provide comments
- Final release
The course is placed on the production server.
Lately we’ve been mainly doing Articulate projects. I think I’ve written 6 of them in the last 5-6 months. For a writer this brings up an interesting point: what is writing e-learning in Articulate like? I’m curious about people’s thoughts on this and want to publish my own because we get a lot of feedback from the clients that no one has seen e-learning quite like ours before. I’m not that aware of doing things that differently from others but, then, I don’t see a lot of others’ e-learning projects. The main thing we hear is that most of the other e-learning out there will just put you to sleep. So what’s the difference?
One thing to keep in mind is that, for 90% of the cases, Articulate is just Powerpoint — but made much cooler. If this is completely new to you, you can check out a couple of examples in the examples viewer on the home page. Just click on home and select ‘e-learning’ from the black-border viewer. Towards the end are several screen shots of an Articulate piece we did about 3 years ago.