software trainingIt’s no surprise that software training is often delivered as eLearning. Technology changes constantly and providing computer program or mobile app training on the device it’ll be used on just makes sense. But software training and its associated screen caps also present some unique challenges and considerations, as well as opportunities.

Challenges

  • Inadequate or poorly designed software training can be very frustrating for learners. If someone knows what to do but can’t figure out how to do it with the new software that’s going to cause them a lot of headaches and may lead to self-doubt.
  • Learners don’t all have the same level of comfort with technology. So, directions like “browse and select a file to use” may be straight forward to tech-savvy learners but may confuse others who aren’t familiar with how to navigate file structures.
  • Software updates frequently, so training and screen caps may become outdated quickly.
  • Programs and apps often look and work a bit differently on one browser, device, or operating system than they do on others. More than one version of the training may be necessary if the differences are significant.

Considerations

  • It’s important to balance “How to” and “Why.” Learners need to know the context for when/ under what circumstances they’ll use the software and how to actually use it.
  • If a recorded walkthrough or screen caps are from a live system the data is real. That can be a privacy concern.
  • If a series of screen caps are used to simulate the system they should all be the same resolution, same file type, and in the same position on the course’s screen. Otherwise the images will have different levels of clarity or appear to “move” from one screen to the next.
  • To truly create an interactive software simulation using screen caps you need images of every single, tiny, you-don’t-even-usually-think-about-it step in the process you’re having the learner click through. For example, if the learner needs to select something from a dropdown the needed screen caps would be as follows:
    • The “before” image where the dropdown is still closed
    • The open dropdown
    • (If the needed selection is not immediately visible) The part of the dropdown that shows the needed selection
    • The “after” image where the dropdown is closed again but is displaying the correct selection
  • If recorded walkthroughs are going to be used keep in mind that unwanted popups will probably show up at some point during recording. Some programs allow you to remove these after you’ve made your recording. In other cases, you may need to re-record if they’re an issue.
  • Having lots of images or videos in a course, like screen caps or recorded walkthroughs, increases the file size.

Opportunities

  • Software training can make a big difference in learners’ day-to-day work. If they successfully learn how to use the latest-and-greatest tools it’ll increase their efficiency and decrease frustration.
  • Provides a chance to use “learning by doing” through the use of simulations.
  • It lets you present the training on the device the program or app will actually be used on.

Software training is common and comes with a series of challenges, considerations, and opportunities that need to be taken into account. It plays a big part in keeping learners efficient and confident, but if the training is sub-par it can do a lot of damage. Do you have any stories about training that was created as part of software adoption or roll out?