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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.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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