A Photo Essay of Classic Instruction Manuals
"How do you run the A/C on a spy plane? Where's the Start button on a nuclear power plant? Don't try to wing it—read the directions! A portfolio of classic instruction manuals."
Another related site: The Product Manual Archive.
IA Summit 09 presentations
Here are the IA Summit 09 presentations on SlideShare. Many of these presos are difficult to follow because they have no notes. Nevertheless, we can get a feel for the topics that were discussed.
Handbook of emerging technologies for learning
Peter Tittenberger and George Siemens have crafted the Handbook of emerging technologies for learning wiki with a goal of helping educators use new technologies in their teaching and learning activities.
A model for work collaboration
Matthew Clark writes about the components of a web collaboration model:
- Collaboration is action-oriented. People must do something to collaborate. They may exchange ideas, arrange an event, write a report, lay bricks, or design some software. To collaborate is to act together and it is the combined set of actions that constitutes collaboration.
- Collaboration is goal-oriented. The reason for working together is to achieve something. There is some purpose behind the actions: to create a web site, to build an office block, to support each other through grief, or some other human goal. The collaborators may have varying motivations, but the collaboration per se focuses on a goal that is shared.
- Collaboration involves a team. No-one can collaborate alone. Collaboration requires a group of people working together. The team may be any size, may be geographically co-located or dispersed, membership may be voluntary or imposed, but there is at least some essence of being part of the team.
- Collaboration is co-ordinated. That is, the team is working together in some sense. The co-ordination may follow some formal methodology, but can equally well be implicit and informal. There needs to be some sense at least that there are a number of things to be done, some sequences of actions, some allocation of tasks within the group, and some way to combine the contributions of different team members.
Write for Reuse
Jakob Nielsen provides timeless advice for online writing:
- Assume your information will be used out of context. Content might be either displayed in different contexts or users might read only a selected bit of the full page. (The hints above can help you determine whether your information works out of context.)
- Modularize your information, so that each content chunk addresses a single issue. If you cover two things in one chunk, the second will often be overlooked.
- Use specific language. Concrete terms are more likely to help people who have a different perspective on the content. Generic or broad terms can be misinterpreted — or overlooked, as we saw in the example.
Deconstructing analysis techniques
Steve Baty has written a detailed article on analyzing research findings. I do agree with him that we don't have many analysis techniques in the interaction design literature. Here are the analysis techniques he describes.
Sir Ken Robinson - The Element
Experts remember more details than non-experts
The Cognitive Daily has a nice test that shows the experts do not really remember more stuff than non-experts; they just remember more details.
The ‘Least Assistance’ Principle
Clark Quinn writes about 'minimalist instruction'. And I subscribe to it. We're living in a day and age where the information to 'fill in the gaps' can be assembled easily. We have to focus on the essentials of the learning.
"We develop full courses to incorporate motivation, practice, all the things non-self-directed learners need. But there are times when we need to provide new information and skills to self-directed learners. When we’re talking to practitioners who are good at their job, know what they’re doing and why, and know that they need to know this information and how they’ll apply it, we can strip away a lot of the window dressing. We can just provide support to a SME so that their talk presents the relevant bits in a streamlined and effective way, and let them loose. That, to me, is the role of rapid elearning."
"IdeasProject, a project of Nokia, brings together the most visionary and influential 'big thinkers' to contemplate exactly these questions, in a new kind of conversation platform aimed at uncovering not only the big ideas that matter most to the future of communications, but also the connections these disruptive ideas. The conversation contemplates what technologies, applications and themes will most change out culture and communications -- and shows us the ideas, the people, and how their ideas are connected - sometimes in the most surprising ways."
Six ways to make Web 2.0 work
- The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top
- The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale
- What’s in the workflow is what gets used
- Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets
- The right solution comes from the right participants
- Balance the top-down and self-management of risk
I like point number 3 - what's in the workflow is what gets used. The key here is to work the process to include the new technology and prove that this is more effective. If you have a culture that is aligned with Web 2.0, this task just gets easier. See Google for example.
"Google is an instructive case to the contrary. It has modified the way work is typically done and has made Web tools relevant to how employees actually do their jobs. The company’s engineers use blogs and wikis as core tools for reporting on the progress of their work. Managers stay abreast of their progress and provide direction by using tools that make it easy to mine data on workflows. Engineers are better able to coordinate work with one another and can request or provide backup help when needed. The easily accessible project data allows senior managers to allocate resources to the most important and time-sensitive projects."
History of the InternetYes, I watched the whole thing. The animation appropriately tells the riveting story.
Learning in and with an open wiki project: Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building
"There is a chance that Wikiversity will become the Internet’s free university just as Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia on the Internet. The building of an educational entity demands considering a number of philosophical and practical questions such as pedagogy and organization. In this paper we will address some of these, starting by introducing several earlier approaches and ideas related to wikis’ potential for education. We continue by presenting three commonly used metaphors of learning: acquisition, participation and knowledge creation. Then we will present the main principles of two existing alternative educational approaches: free adult education and free school movement. To test these educational approaches and practices on Wikiversity and increase our understanding of the possibilities of this initiative, in the spring of 2008 we implemented an experimental course in Wikiversity. We conclude with several recommendations essentially advocating for Wikiversity and the use of wikis in education. However, more than just presenting our opinions, as authors we aim to make an educated — traditionally and in the wiki way — contribution to the international discussion about the future of education for all in the digital era."
How to design good educational apps for the iPhone
This is my new article for elearningpost after a 5 year hiatus. I was encouraged to write this after I saw my daughter struggle with some educational apps on the iPhone. I write this in the hope that going forward we'll see some real neat apps that kids can enjoy and learn from.
In this article, I reflect on my observations and propose the following qualities of good educational apps.
- Clear goals
- Useful & engaging start up screen
- Interesting gameplay
- Meaningful interactions
- Appropriate feedback
Intranet launch - wonderful example
The ThoughtFarmer bloggers have posted a wonderful case study on how to launch an Enterprise 2.0 type intranet. The launch of the Penn Sate intranet was planned an executed in 7 weeks. It's just neat how they managed to put that many activities together. Wonderful stuff.
They put together a goal statement:
“The intranet will engage employees to connect across Outreach with peer, management, and leadership, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing. These connections will provide greater service to our learners, our communities, and each other.”
They put up huge posters in elevators and at a cultural & professional development event.
They 'leaked' a video showing a feature of the new intranet.
They released an audio message from the vice president.
They solicited campus-wide for volunteers for a "super exclusive project" and ran a 20-person pilot.
They held a barnraising.
And all of this happened in 7 weeks.
TED: Bill Gates on how to make a teacher great
Bill Gates takes on the education system, especially the difference between good and bad teaching. Many of the solutions he refers to are typical knowledge management problems. For example, how can we learn from good teachers? Or, how can we keep on improving? One of the solutions he mentions is to videotape the teaching in the classrooms. The videos can then be studied to transfer good skills or to learn from mistakes. I'm just glad that Gates has got the education system in focus now. We can finally expect some movement.
MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense
This is awesome. It goes to show that new ideas can be explored when projection systems go micro -- here MIT students use a battery powered projector to project interfaces on any object.
Why Is It So Hard to Copy Toyota?
Steve Denning attempts to unpack why GM is not able to copy the Toyota Production System (TPS). A nice introduction to the Toyota Way of work and the important elements in it. At the heart of the matter, Denning says, is that GM and the likes tend to focus more on the 'process' and 'continuous improvement' angle of the TPS and not on the 'people' and 'teams' angle.
Usability testing on the cheap
A friend of mine asked me about doing usability testing on the cheap. Thought I'd share some apps and websites I have bookmarked.
- Userfly - This is a new service and could become the next big thing. It captures user sessions on video and overlays it with screen interactions.
- Silverback - Mac only app that uses the video cam on the mac to record user reactions and screen interactions. I use this frequently.
- Ethnio - Online recruitment for conducting usability studies, focus groups and surveys.
- Usertesting - Low cost usability testing. Captures user sessions on video.
Unfortunately the online testing services can't be used for testing intranets. And not many intranets support Macs or browsers other than IE. So that leaves one with the Classic approach -- 1 video camera 1 PC, and 1 extra LCD monitor. Yes, there is another tool, Morae, that can be used on Windows, but it's pricey.
Designing Web Interfaces
The Lean Intranet: from Intranet Zero to Intranet 2.0 and beyond
Patrick Walsh has written a beautiful article explaining the the dire conditions of many intranets (Intranet Zero) and the misconceptions that drive it.
"In my opinion, the current paradigm for intranets has never worked. I call the current state ‘Intranet Zero' because popular approaches offer virtually zero benefit to intranet users and their organizations, while giving zero chance of breaking out of the spiral of uselessness, poor user perception and even poorer usability."
From an interesting new startup called Flatworld:
"We preserve the best of the old - books by leading experts, rigorously reviewed and developed to the highest standards. Then we flip it all on its head.
Our books are free online. We offer convenient, low-cost choices for students – softcovers for under $30, audio books and chapters, self-print options, and more. Our books are open for instructors to modify and make their own (for their own course - not for anybody else's). Our books are the hub of a social learning network where students learn from the book and each other."
Academic Earth- video lectures from the world's top scholars. They even have an entire course in psychology. Now they should provide an iTunes link or an iPhone app.
Well, Pipl is much better than Google in searching for people. It gives details in webpages, documents, business profiles, personal profiles, etc. Good stuff, but scary.
Learning leaders 2008
Elearning magazine has published the results of the 2008 Bersin competition on Learning Leaders -- companies with good learning programs for their staff. For example,
"Sun Microsystems: Leadership Connections, part of Sun’s comprehensive Leadership Academy, prepares senior and executive leaders through skills assessment, coaching, training, and a sophisticated custom-designed simulation. Keys to Sun’s success include CEO and executive team involvement in the leadership framework, the selection of content and topics, and the design and piloting of the simulation. The program has shown great success in improving managers’ knowledge of the company’s strategy and business model. Ratings for understanding the interrelationships and dependencies across Sun business units, for example, more than doubled — from 39 to 90 percent — after completing the program."