I was recently meeting with a colleague (thank you Jean Sheadel) and we discussed the transfer of knowledge…or the lack thereof. One great thing about higher education is that folks tend to stick around for a very (very, very) long time. One not so great thing is that all the knowledge they accumulate throughout their career, often times spanning multiple positions at an institution, may go along with them once they leave. That means that others are left to reinvent the process or attempt to try to make sense of partially documented procedures.
Think about your own onboarding process. Were you completely trained in all areas of the job or were there times you felt like you were making it up as you went along? Can an institution really stand to lose such valuable experience, knowledge, and procedures every time a staff member leaves?
Jean was kind enough to show me her method of documentation. Besides describing specific steps for a given task, she also includes annotated screenshots as well. By adding visuals to her documents she ensures that anyone viewing them will be able to further understand the process through images, text, and even callouts. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all stepped into new roles with fully developed manuals, user guides, and quick starts? Wouldn’t that make the job easier for those after us as well? Glad you asked such thought-provoking questions.
If you’re curious about experimenting with image annotation, you’ve got a few options. First, already installed on campus PCs is a program (found under All Programs > Accessories) called Snipping Tool. Next, there are lots of FREE extensions to add onto web browsers (I’d suggest the web extension Nimbus Screenshot for starters). Campus PCs already come installed with Chrome and Firefox, enabling you to add such extensions immediately. Start by opening up one of these browsers and hopping over to their extensions sites:
Another options once you’ve mastered the free tools (or outgrown them) is SnagIt by Techsmith. This application provides more advanced features and offers an educational discount (currently $29.95).
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get screenshooting! Okay, that’s not actually a word…but it sounds cool. Thanks again Jean for sharing your process and Jeremy for your comment below.