Re: Importance of Trainers (was: Re: Summary: Tech Trainers and Tech Writers)

Subject: Re: Importance of Trainers (was: Re: Summary: Tech Trainers and Tech Writers)
From: Wayne Douglass <wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 13:55:05 -0800

At 04:04 PM 1/11/99 -0500, Gil Yaker wrote:

>In my project, there are two of us in the department. The title for our job
>roles are "Technical Documentation and Training Specialists" (heh, that's
>one for the previous thread :). The way this project is designed, the one
>with more training background takes the lead and the one with more of a
>writing background takes a back seat. Looking through current job postings,
>it seems that to many companies, the trainers command the higher salaries
>and more prestige on the job. Any ideas why that is? Seems to me, all
>things being equal, both jobs are similar in their complexity and

Here are some generalizations based upon my experience as a manager of
technical publications in an education department at another company.
"Training" in this context means stand-up instruction rather than
computer-based training, where I suspect most of these generalizations
would not apply.

> In general, the writers were better *writers* than the trainers. By that
I mean not only a better grasp of grammar, choice of words, and adherence
to style standards, but also a better sense of providing a context for
describing features and explaining instructions. The trainers tended to be
more terse or even cryptic because the context would be supplied by the
classroom set-up (computers, software, etc.) In short, the manuals were
designed to be read as independent entities; the classroom materials were
designed to support instruction.

> As befits their background and training, the trainers were primarily
interested in *pedagogy* as defined by some accepted training approach
(Mager is a favorite in the high tech world). Audience and task analysis
are concerns for both writer and trainer, but the trainer worries more
about explicit behavioral objectives, feedback loops (for example,
quizzes), and measurements of what is learned (insofar as it can be

> A rational approach to training would suggest that the course materials
should be based on the manuals, freeing the the trainers to concentrate on
pedagogy instead of technical accuracy. In fact, the trainers typically
rewrote the manuals in their Student Guides and produced a generally
inferior version of the same material.


Wayne Douglass phone: 408-542-2139
Verity, Inc. FAX: 408-542-2040
894 Ross Road mailto:wayned -at- verity -dot- com
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

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