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A Perfect Model for Online Tutorials -- MS Visio Shapes Course

by Tom Johnson on Aug 4, 2007 •
categories: technical-writing

This tutorial on Visio's shapes from Microsoft is the best online tutorial I think I've ever seen. If I were modeling my help after a perfect example, it would be this tutorial.

A Perfect Tutorial

Here's why:

  • It contains both audio and text. You can control the audio easily, or just read the text.
  • Each page is short (2 minutes) so your attention span doesn't time out.
  • While you listen to the audio, you look at a graphic that demonstrates the concept explained.
  • You can see your progress through the course so you can see how many more screens are left.
  • After 10 screens or so, you're given a quiz. Responses appear after each answer.
  • After the quizzes, you have files to download and steps to walk through yourself. This helps you not just follow steps, but actually learn and grasp the material.
  • Some graphics are mini-demos you can watch.
  • The information is chunked and kept somewhat simple so it's not overwhelming.
  • At the end of the course, you receive a quick reference card to help you remember what you learned.
  • You also have the opportunity to rate the course and give feedback.
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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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