: no PCT instructional designs exist

[From Richard Thurman (970130.1240)]

Bruce Gregory (970130.1410 EST)

I find that instruction books for assembling objects such as the
cabinet on which a TV can be placed, or a new piece of exercise
apparatus (two things with which I have recent familiarity) are
good, if unintentional, examples of PCT-based instruction. Some,
of course, are a lot better than others :wink:

Yes! I last weekend I put together one of those computer desk kits and
was quite impressed with the quality of the instructions. I could tell
that the designers were looking at the task from the point of view of the
person holding the screwdriver. It even told how to orient the pieces so
that they would correspond with the drawings. The fact that the
instructions even hinted that setting the components in proper sequence
and layout is a major breakthrough. (The reason I was impressed was that
I could compare the instructions with similar ones from a kit I put
together 10 years ago.)

In my imagination I could almost see the instruction designers watching
some poor guy trying to read the original instructions and put the kit
together. How many modifications did the manual go through before they
could have confidence that any schmuck off the street could put this thing
together? How many kits got mangled?

Speaking from experience, its extremely mortifying to see someone
completely mangle a task that you have spent hours and hours writing
instructions for. (Not to mention the huge costs of designing and
developing the accompanying graphics.) Yet good designers must constantly
put the instruction through iteration after iteration until it works.

A bad example of instructional design was the manual accompanying the
bicycle I put together last Christmas. It was a jumble of English words
that must have been translated from a foreign language by machine. I
guarantee you -- not one sole from that company tested the instructions to
see if someone could actually put the bike together.

All this is to say that one of the keys of good ISD (I think) it to look
at the task from the perspective of the person who has to do it. Another
is that good ISD may take lots of iterations with lots of 'feedback'
until you can control for the perception of "now anyone can put this thing
together."

Good luck with the new exercise equipment!

Rich