Author: Matt Armstrong, Director, Vertical Solutions Sales at Author-it
For organizations focused on improving customer experience, linking the training and documentation teams seems like an easy win. Our own work with these organizations shows a high level of interest as well an understanding of the business value that can be gained by increasing reuse and collaboration between these two groups. After all, both groups touch the same clients and users with similar information, right? Unfortunately, that collaboration win is never as simple as it seems, and the friction that slows these efforts is a mix of technology issues, business processes, and the team members themselves.
Increase collaboration and reuse
We’ve worked with dozens of organizations as they increase collaboration and content reuse between documentation and training groups, and add new content distribution channels. Author-it Honeycomb is a recent Author-it update that reduces the effort and complexity of reusing content from different groups within an organization, with a focus on interactive new HTML5 application interactions for elearning, mobile learning, and assessments. Honeycomb adds new ways to distribute high value content to users at the moment they need it, on any device, and in a significantly more engaging manner than traditional product documentation.
In this blog post, I’ll focus on the process for using Honeycomb in a documentation team; the next article will be about using Honeycomb as part of a training team; and the final blog will discuss content strategy, for both documentation and training teams, to collaborate together, with a focus on user/learner requirements.
Documentation teams at the forefront
Documentation teams are usually at the forefront of creating high value content within the organization. Sadly, this content rarely gets the opportunity to influence either users or purchasers outside the documentation portal. Efforts to either increase user engagement, or distribute the content on other channels, are thwarted by issues of, among others, structure and purpose.
Structure issues: technical content developers using structured content models spend significant amounts of time tagging, classifying, and structuring content, hoping there will eventually be a publishing process that turns this highly organized information into elearning that a user wants to engage with. The XML tools and complex rules required for structured content alienate a lot of highly skilled SMEs, and slow down what should be a rapid and collaborative development process. Worse, the current publishing processes produce uninspiring results that fall far behind the current state-of-the-art desktop elearning development tools like Articulate and Captivate, and have poor support for learning platform standards like SCORM and xAPI.
Purpose issues: a skilled documentation writer structures content differently (eg. is it findable, structured consistently, easily read and comprehended?) to how an instructional designer structures a course (eg. is the learner prepared for this skill acquisition, is the skill relevant, is the skill retained?). While there is content overlap between the two, the core purpose often informs the how a single piece of information may be written differently.
What if: we provided documentation developers with best practice instructional design templates AND a publishing process that created engaging elearning/mobile learning content AND bundled the entire output as a standards compliant file for widespread distribution?
What if: this was fast and simple, and used both structured and unstructured content?
These were the driving motivations behind Author-it Honeycomb: a simple way for documentation teams to repurpose their content for distribution as best-in-class elearning, mobile learning, and assessments. You can check the video of Honeycomb in action to see for yourself both the process and final product.
If you are a training developer or instructional designer, check back for our next blog discussing how Author-it Honeycomb augments your existing training projects