Easily Create Your Own Training Guides

Manual

Example training guide for the HR newsletter development process.

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?

SnagIt

Just some of the many features of SnagIt by TechSmith.

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.

Wordpress Screenshot

An annotated image, created from this very blog post.

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Below is an email update from our own Jeremy Hawks in IT.

    I just read your “Easily Create Training Guides” article. One thing you may not have been aware of is that every Windows 7 and up PC comes by default with a free screen capture tool called the “Snipping Tool”. You can find it by clicking on the Windows Logo and then either searching for “snip” or looking under “All Programs”, then “Accessories”. It allows you to select whatever portion of your screen you want and then has basic annotation tools available prior to saving your capture.

    If you open the “Snipping Tool”, you will get a pop-up prompting you to create a “New” screen capture. The rest of your screen fades a bit and you can use your mouse to draw around what you want to capture (click and drag the mouse). As soon as you let go of the mouse button to complete your selection it will open up the Annotation screen. When you have finished annotating, you can save, or if you try to close it, it will automatically prompt you to save.

    There is also the old standby of clicking on the “PrtScn SysRq” button of your keyboard and then pasting in to a paint program (like the free “Paint” on Windows PCs). That automatically captures your entire display (spans across multiple monitors if you have them).

    Those are both very basic tools, but are free and already installed on every campus PC.

    Have a nice day,
    Jeremy Hawks

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