Monday, December 12, 2005

Final Analysis

The assessment of my final project is now available. You can download the PDF here:

EDC&I 436 Final Analysis

There is a link on the first page that is not active in the PDF version for some reason. It links to the class blog. I imagined that this progarm would be linked from a permanent module in the right column.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Final Laps

There have been some major strides in the last few weeks. There has been some pain, some confusion, some frustration and some doubt. But, it looks like all the pieces came together in the way that I imagined them. You can take a look at the results at the following links:

Audience analysis program flowchart
Presentation of audience analysis material
Audience analysis assessment program

I had to ditch some of the more interesting features of the program (the persona buider) due to time constraints. I still think it would be a valuable part of this instruction and could be added later due to the modular nature of the program.

One thing before you go...early testing has indicated that the program requires Flash 8. Many bad things have happened with people (on PCs and Macs) who have tried to run it with earlier versions. If you're running the latest version, enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I have finished up the assessment portion of the assignment using the learning interaction templates in Flash. The templates were not really ideal for the content I had in the script so I spent some time rewriting the information for the space. I think it turned out ok. Another challenge will be to integrate the sounds that I recorded. Click on the link to see the current version:

Audience ID Chamber

Of course, that doesn't mean my work is finished. I still have imagery to work on for the instructional portion. There are still some interface tweaks to go as well. My big concern now is the persona building portion of the program. The assessment took longer than I had hoped and the imagery changes will be time consuming as well. With the deadline closing in, I wonder how feasible another large component is.

Of course, time is the thing I have the least of. Flash knowledge is a close second.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


The transition continues. My audience analysis project has finally been realized in Flash!

Progress is not as brisk as I would like it to be though. The laundry list of things to do still includes the heavy lifting for the interactive components, recording the sounds that I have scripted, adding final images/animations, refining the look and feel of the buttons (mainly the top nav) and adjusting some of the copy that seems a bit heavy at times.

But, even this piece feels like an accomplishment. Some issues with buttons and scripting really bogged down my progress. I had to start over on some elements more than once. I feel good about where it's going though.

Bring on the next stage!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


We have another progress report for this week. The Audience Analysis project is starting to take shape. The content appears in a script that maps directly back to the content flow chart that I posted earlier.

Download a copy of the script. (PDF)

One of the things I noticed is that the script is awfully long becuase it includes the navigation elements for each page. I plan to amend the flow chart by adding cues that might make it easier to navigate the script.

That is forthcoming.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Go With the Flow


So how will this project unfold exactly? Well, I've drawn up a basic flowchart that reflects the content of the exercise and the navigation through each section. Download a copy (PDF) and let me know what you think.

The big challenge, it seems, will be to get my Flash skills to a level where all of the interactivity is possible. The chart may be updated based on my progress with the application itself.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Project Proposal

Project Goal:
For students to recognize the importance of audience groups in technical writing and how it affects the way documents are written. They will also learn techniques they can use to address four primary audience groups.

Student Profile:
The class is primarily made up of students from the College of Engineering and include a diverse group of sophomores, juniors and seniors. It is very common for students to dispute the value of the class for a number of reasons. First, many of them do not think they will be doing a lot of writing in the professional world. The expectation is that they will spend eight hours a day doing "engineering" and not writing, so the prospect of a writing course is frequently not very exciting.

Many of the students put off taking the class, which is a requirement for most of the engineering programs, for this reason. The consequence is that we get a number of juniors and seniors who ultimately feel that the information we cover is beneath them. It is not theoretically complex so it commonly gets dismissed as being simple common sense.

Other students put off taking the course because they lack confidence in their writing skills. They would much rather take an exam than write an essay. The engineering programs give them an opportunity to excel in the things that interest them (frequently mathematics) while TC 231 forces them to confront a known weakness. This can make them uncomfortable and also adversely affect their motivation to do well in the class.

Finally, the class usually has a group of students who are non-native English speakers. For these students, every act of writing can be a chore. Even small assignments end up taking them extraordinary amounts of time, and some even employ outside help through one of the many writing centers on campus. The effort required will often not match up well with the amount of time invested and their motivation will suffer because of it.

All of the students have experience in other writing courses, but most of them have not had any formal training in technical writing. They are most familiar with a style of writing that has one audience member: their professor. They do not have any experience tailoring their content, organization, style, or tone to the needs or expectations of variety of potential readers.

Proposed Strategy
This project will help students understand the characteristics of different audiences, their needs, and how they use written communication. This will be accomplished through an interactive program that will allow students o create personas for each of the four audience groups we study in TC 231. They will choose qualities from a prepared list of characteristics that would be expected for each audience group. The importance of these qualities will be reinforced through the use of animations, sound effects and video that reflect the environment that each audience member will be working in.

The act of creating individual personas will help the student feel more personally invested in the project. The presence of sound and video will help keep the student engaged in the exercise. The expected duration of the exercise, approximately 10-15 minutes, will make this a nice supplement to classroom instruction and can easily be completed as part of a homework assignment.


This site will be used to post updates on my EDC&I/TC 436 instructional design project. I will use this space for progress reports, resource aggregation, questions, testing, and a laundry list of other things that I have not considered yet.

My project will focus on one of the primary concepts that I try to communicate to my own students in TC 231, Intro to Technical Writing: the importance of audience analysis. My preliminary idea is to blend instruction with practice in an interactive setting. For example, they will learn the characteristics of the four audience groups we discuss in one portion while actively creating their own audience personas in another.

The use of video is being considered as well.