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The Training Displaywriter

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000042717D
Original Publication Date: 1984-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-04
Document File: 5 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Boor, DA: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In high-function systems novice users need help in exploring basic functions without being distracted by advanced material. The Training Displaywriter described herein is a system for learners that encourages exploration of basic functions by disabling the more advanced functions that can distract and confuse novices. Learning simple things first: Contemporary office systems, like the Displaywriter, are capable of many advanced functions. But advanced functions can create problems for the learner who is not ready for them, as behavioral studies have demonstrated. How can these problems be avoided? One approach is to limit the learner to only simple functions, to make advanced functions unavailable. Most basically, one wants a word processor to type in documents, to revise documents already typed in, and to print.

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The Training Displaywriter

In high-function systems novice users need help in exploring basic functions without being distracted by advanced material. The Training Displaywriter described herein is a system for learners that encourages exploration of basic functions by disabling the more advanced functions that can distract and confuse novices. Learning simple things first: Contemporary office systems, like the Displaywriter, are capable of many advanced functions. But advanced functions can create problems for the learner who is not ready for them, as behavioral studies have demonstrated. How can these problems be avoided? One approach is to limit the learner to only simple functions, to make advanced functions unavailable. Most basically, one wants a word processor to type in documents, to revise documents already typed in, and to print. From this bare bones perspective, functions like Spelling, Format Changing, Menu Bypass, Keysave, Pagination, and Merge Tasks, are extras. In a word, this is the design of the Training Displaywriter. One loads the system in the same way as one would the full Textpack 4 system. One sees the same Task Selection Menu, the first menu that comes up, but can only select "a", for typing Tasks. The other choices merely elicit the system response "X is not available on the Training Displaywriter", with X being choices like Program Diskette Tasks, Work Diskette Tasks, Merge Tasks, etc. Positive transfer of learning: This design addresses three problems of the novice explorer. First, the need for a training manual has been vastly reduced. One set of training materials developed for the Training Displaywriter consists of two large Guided Exploration-type cards, and most of the material on these pertains to loading diskettes (a terribly complicated problem in any case). These cards and a precise description of the Training Displaywriter appear as an Appendix to this report. Second, the sometimes reckless novice can safely explore. Menu choices can be tried and tested without fear of inadvertently getting into things like Program Diskette Tasks -- which will be confusing to the first time user, but which are a choice on the Task Selection Menu (and an important set of functions for more skilled users). Third, the novice -- while "protected" from the consequences of reckless exploration -- has seen the choices, seen the full menus, and even tested the operations involved in making the choices, and all at no cost in terms of side-tracks and the frustration of getting lost. In psychological jargon, these common interface elements provide a basis for "high positive transfer" between the Training Displaywriter and the full Textpack 4. For when this novice graduates to the full Textpack 4 system, the same displays will appear and the same keys can be pressed. However, instead of the disabled function messages, the full function will be engaged. Let us briefly tour the Training Displaywriter. After loading the syste...