Erika CABOUL, Nicolas CHLEFFER, Caroline VAISSIERE
Paris Diderot University, July 2016
Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have emerged in the higher educational field with the development of web 2.0 applications and tools. Their main features allow them to be particularly user-centric. They also rely on customization and collaborative learning. As they cater to the learner needs – lifelong and ubiquitous access, PLEs stand at the border of formal and informal education spheres. They nevertheless raise technological and privacy issues that make them somewhat difficult to implement in the workplace. Moreover, business factors and corporate stakes are to be considered when trying to foster community-learning activities within a standardized and controlled environment such as that of the existing Learning Management System (LMS). However, some experiments have been conducted at companies level, leading to promising results for the future.
Victoria Genin, MarcAlexandre Jacques, Tiphaine Monange
Paris Diderot University, July 1st 2016
With the creation of international standards and the rise of public awareness, web and software accessibility have become a topical issue. Yet, it seems like accessibility is still rarely taken into account by technical companies who prefer to focus on innovation.
Part of the usability and accessibility of a software is based on its documentation. As technical writers, we wondered which role technical writers have to play in fostering accessibility.
The information used in this article was drawn from three main sources. In addition to reading articles written by accessibility researchers, we carried out two surveys to study the scope of accessibility in the creation and navigation of user interfaces: the first one was sent to disabled users and the second one to professionals. We also interviewed a highly experienced technical writer trained in accessibility. The results led us to conclude that technical writers definitely have a key role to play in fostering accessibility standards – either by increasing their cooperation with developers or by implementing accessibility solutions themselves.
Sara Chaoui, Margaux Chatelain, Julie Dezalay and Justine Gaillard
Technical documentation can be written and delivered in two ways: it can be structured and will follow an XML information model; or it can be unstructured and cannot be validated against a model. Nowadays, companies tend to migrate their documentation from unstructured to structured content. This article focuses on the stakes of moving from unstructured to structured content and explains the key aspects of this process. First, we will identify the reasons of the migration by studying different approaches in several companies. Secondly, the results and/or expected benefits of the migration will be discussed. Interviews of technical writers, documentation managers, and information architects will help us define what the advantages of structured documentation are. We will focus on the added value for the technical writer and for the documentation reader. Moreover, we will try to understand what the company gains from the migration. To conclude, we will draw five guidelines for a successful migration. Moving from unstructured to structured content is a challenging process and the best based on experience and know-how.
Marion L., Catherine S., Jean-Michel V.D.B., Laureen Z.
During the last few years, DITA has spread in many companies and sectors and is often considered as the “must have” tool for technical writing thanks to its flexibility and adaptability. However, does DITA really live up to its reputation? We start with noting that the concept of DITA was designed to serve this purpose. We then try to learn more about DITA and its implementation through webinars, specialized articles, surveys about DITA, and especially one that we conducted from March to May 2015. We came to two main conclusions. First, financially speaking, DITA remains relatively affordable for larger or smaller companies, as long asthey are not looking into specialization, and provided that the implementation plan is complete and fully backed by management. In addition, the productivity gains they get from transitioning to DITA are mainly determined by the implication of companies and the context of the implementation. Secondly, DITA is not restricted to the software sector. It brings a lot to a wide variety of domains thanks to its universal benefits: content reuse, its linking system, the expansion of electronic documentation and the possibility to be specialized. Besides, even though DITA is for now mostly used by documentation teams composed of professional technical writers, LightWeight DITA seems to be quite promising in improving the spread of DITA outside the documentation departments.