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Review Developing Training Courses : A Technical Writer's Guide to Instructional Design and

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Developing Training Courses : A Technical Writer's Guide to Instructional Design and Development
    Author: Rives Hassell-Corbiell
    Format: Paperback, 256 pages
    Publisher: Learning Edge (March 2001)
    ISBN-10: 0970145403
    ISBN-13: 978-0970145406

    Review by James Pyles
    January 23, 2008

    I have a particular need for this kind of book and in fact, I admirably fill the bill of the target audience: a technical writer who needs to develop a training program. I've been "tasked" (to use one of the current business buzz words) with developing a training program for our technical sales and support people to get them up to speed on our new product (and no, this isn't going to be an ad for the company I work for or what we make, so no names). I have done some training in the dim past but nothing like what's being asked for. Fortunately, I looked up at the book shelf in my cube and saw a text left behind by my predecessor: "Developing Training Courses"

    Yes this is relevant to the technology industry and to FOSS. I'm the technical writer for a software company with an international customer base and I'm supposed to provide internal training to sales and support staff on our new software product, so I think the task and job role is in the technical sphere. That said, given what I have to start with and what I'm expected to do, will this author's book help me achieve my goals?

    The book is nearly 7 years old so it's been well reviewed. A casual glance at the reviews at Amazon indicates that the book has been well received. I couldn't find any more recent editions than the one I have in my hands so either the information contained in this book has withstood the test of time or it's passed into the mists of history, never to be thought of again.

    Actually, this book would be quite handy if I were starting my own consultancy designed to provide overall training to technical companies or I were just made the director of training for my company and tasked (there's that word, again) with developing on overall program for the firm nationwide. I don't think it's quite as helpful in my circumstance, though.

    I'm really a technical writer whose scope of duties is being expanded to include related areas. My main job will always be as a documentation expert with a side dish of training. I need to know how to leverage the information and documentation I have into a training program for a limited audience. The audience will be leveraging their knowledge of the company's products to learn this new application (which is substantially related to our other products). I need a "translation matrix" that will help me take information expressed in one format and transform it from help files into training topics. The Hassell-Corbiell book doesn't do that. It's high-level process oriented but doesn't help out in terms of content management.

    The book is quite a gem if you need to plan an overarching training program for the mid to large sized business and you need to train on a wide variety of topics to large and varied audiences. This book is a systematic guide to creating a "big picture" training program. It doesn't really drill down to the level that I need it to describe, however. While the "technical writer to trainer" hook is attractive, it doesn't quite come across as advertised. I did glean some particular gems from within its pages, but the book overall was really overkill for my needs. I'm not looking on becoming a "super-duper" training guru; just to spruce up my current base of information and tweak it into a training course or two, tooled to a few different audiences. Thanks for the tour of "traininghood", but I don't need a book with such a broad scope.
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