Gamification in e-learning has become more popular nowadays, especially with an increasing demand for digital learning during the pandemic. Indeed, the benefits are apparent. Gamification creates engaging and interactive ways of learning and practicing a skill, which contribute to learner motivation. This study aims to examine the limits of gamification in e-learning. If we look closer at its mechanisms, gamified learning is still a challenging method for learners. Too many gamification elements in e-learning could lead to addictive behavior and other psychological issues. So, in attempt to understand and discuss the impacts and limits of those mechanisms in e-learning, we interrogated Duolingo users on their learning experience in the application and their thoughts of in-app gamification elements. The results showed that overall, most of the interviewees felt they had a relatively positive learning experience with Duolingo but showed alternating periods of strong engagement and total disengagement. The Duolingo gamification mechanisms that seem to be the most effective are the progress bar system, the quizzes and the streak system.
As technology evolves, so does technical writing. New media is used to convey information more efficiently and yet, technical documentation is not always very clear. As technical writers, we have general knowledge on what structures are expected to be the easiest to recognize and follow. We want our documentation to be read and understood and with that in mind, we are constantly searching for the best layout to contain our pieces of information. These elements tie in to cognitive psychology and more specifically visual perception. But do technical writers study cognitive psychology? And if they do, do they apply its principles in their work? This research article examines the relationship between technical writers and visual perception principles of cognitive psychology. With the use of a survey and a practical test on applied knowledge of Gestalt principles, this study analyzes and assesses whether or not technical writers have studied visual perception and if so, what differences there are in identifying the principles of visual perception between technical writers who have studied visual perception and those that have not. The results gathered show that most technical writers have no knowledge of visual perception principles. Nonetheless it does not prevent them from being able to recognize when an element of a layout needs improvement for clarity, legibility, understanding and overall ease of use. They are able to justify their answers almost as well as trained technical writers.
Jordan Bernardi, Thomas Jarillon, François D’araujo
Paris Diderot University – 07/18/2021
Technical communication follows the perpetual advances in technological trends. It leverages every tool at its disposal to efficiently develop and propose the most relevant technical content to reach its critical target audience. Videos constitute a highly effective medium for capturing and conveying a wide array of information to achieve this goal. The immediacy brought by videos as well as the comprehensive sensory experience they propose are tributes to their demonstrative strength. But if videos constitute such a powerful tool, why are they not used everywhere in technical communication? This research article examines the pertinence of videos in technical communication by exposing their potential limitations according to several criteria: People in charge, univocal set of best practices, narrative aspect, and comparison with written documentation. Reviewing generic existing literature on the subject of videos constituted the first step of this study. A survey and a heuristic evaluation were then conducted to analyze and assess the position of videos in the technical communication landscape while exploring the different limitations to video implementation in this specific framework. The results gathered through the heuristic evaluation and the survey effectively completed the bibliography by providing more recent data on this rapidly evolving medium. These served in identifying some of the current practices and limitations that we can observe in today’s technical communication environment. Although videos are recognized as a real added value to software documentation, they have limitations that all have a common denominator: Lack of time. While one of the biggest challenges of technical writing is to best reflect the products being described, written documentation still seems to be the only one to predominate due to its unmatched ability to be quickly updated.
LABATTE Johanna, L. M., MOREIRA Aurélien, USLUCAN Sena
University of Paris, 15/07/2021
Accessibility addresses solutions offered for disabled people to have the same use of an object as an able person. Most people associate accessibility with physical objects that physically disabled people cannot use. However, accessibility actually accommodates a much larger group of users and is relevant for any product, including the web. Anyone at any point in their lives can become disabled, even temporarily. Furthermore, accessibility improves usability. Accessibility aims to make web content usable by as many people as possible.
Over the past decades, accessibility has become a matter of law in many different countries such as the United States, France, China, India, or Germany for example. Accessibility has also become a way for companies to improve their brand image while it allows people with disabilities to access web content. In the end, everybody wins.
Documentation and technical communication have gone beyond the stage of secondary support, to become a necessary product while creating a product that reflects its target users is now a common strategy. Then, could inclusive writing be relevant in technical communication to meet users’ expectations? By interviewing technical communication professionals on their products and experience, cross-checked with research, we are seeking to answer this question. From technical guides to marketplace interfaces, we were able to identify how inclusivity could be integrated into their products and learn when it added value. While businesses take every precaution to be seen as inclusive, we could imagine that it would show in the content they create. Inclusive writing is the ultimate lever to women and men’s equality in language. Yet, its cultural and political association added with the variety of its form can make any company think twice before incorporating it. Technical communicators are confronted with a brand-new way of writing content that can sometimes go against the sacred rules of Technical Communication1. At the same time, it implies great change management, not only for users but for collaborators as well. Even though technology might answer most of the drawbacks and complications, is inclusive writing worth the risk?
“The simpler the better”,you have probablyheard this sentence many times. It isparticularly true in technical writing. It has been proventhat having more than seven chunksof informationor using useless information in a technical document can affect users’working memory as well as an unstructureddocument. However, there is little research on thenature of thelink between working memory and technical writing. Ourarticle examinesthe correlation between cognitive psychology and technical writing and more especially the importance of optimizing the user’s working memory when writing technical documents.To understand the impact of an alteredprocedure on the realization of a task,we conducted an experimentwhich consisted of a comparison between two drawing procedures: one which aimedat optimizingworking memory and the other which aimedat alteringit. Participants sharedtheir drawings and toldus the difficulties theyfaced for eachof the procedures. Ourresearch and theanalysis of theconducted experiment allowed us to draw the conclusionthattechnical writersshould always considertheir user’s working memory to ensure that the instructions areeasy to follow for every age and capacity range. The structure and content of documentations can help users to group information together and thus help improve their working memory while reading instructions.
The term ‘user-centric approach’ steadily gained momentum over the last two decades, to become a popular professional standard in the digitized industries.
The simplest way to define user-centric is in contrast with a product-centric approach: the focus of the technical content is shifted from the product and what it can do, to the user and what they want to do.
The end goal is to make technical content more digestible for users, making them feel that the content is tailored to their individual needs.
Upon closer investigation, it becomes clear that user-centric technical content and the definition given to this approach to content creation varies greatly due to several environmental and individual factors.
What seems to have become an industry standard, is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of practices that are sometimes difficult to pinpoint with precision and accuracy.
What does this approach actually mean to professionals? What are the facilitating and the challenging factors that come with this new way of thinking technical content creation?
We have been living in a digital era for more than three decades. As a result, digital documentation prevails over paper formats. Technical writers have therefore adapted to the market reality, where people use several types of screen: computers, smartphones, tablets… Each screen has its own specificity, hence the importance to adjust digital documentation to provide better readability and a better understanding. Users need to understand documents instantaneously.
With the impactful rise of all types of social networks, the way we communicate and exchange information has evolved as well. Users want and need to quickly find what they are looking for. They tend to be less patient and focused and would not want to go through the whole documentation. The information within technical documentation must be of easy access, and most importantly, users must have access to it quickly.
Technical writers are therefore facing a challenge: they must adapt to the specificities of the digital world and create methods that allow users to communicate with them and/or to give them a useful feedback.
As of today, technical writing teams use methods inspired by blogs or social networks (FAQs, “like” buttons, comments etc.), in order to receive feedback from the readers. However, this approach is not always effective or relevant.
Digital services transform our everyday experience, first through screens (websites, e-learning, online help, videos and social networks), and now through the physical world (voice assistants, augmented reality, blended learning). Technical communication has always had very strong ties with experience design. Now communication and design practices need to evolve to better support hybrid experiences across the digital and physical worlds.
Les projets de recherche en M2 Communication Technique Multilingue [PDF]
Claudia ANTHONYPILLAI, Laura BARIBAUD, Louise CLAUSTRAT
Paris Diderot University, July 15, 2019
Videos play an important role in our lives, as well as in the daily lives of technical writers. Technical documentation has evolved throughout time and beyond written text, with multiple tools to choose from. This makes us wonder, to what extent is the introduction of videos in technical writing necessary?
Our research article seeks to answer this question, presenting the results of different tests and questionnaires. We will be able to determine how a user reacts to different sources of information, as well as how user experience affects the way a technical writer produces documentation.
Users have different learning styles, one can be verbal and the other visual, and a technical writer should keep that in mind when producing documents. Since everyone is different, having a video as a source helps and includes more people. However videos can be restricting depending on the situations.
Just like user needs, technical writing evolves, and so does technology. With the introduction of various forms of videos and the ability to integrate them in multiple platforms, a technical document can become more than just a traditional user guide. GIFs, chatbots and AI-powered applications are bringing new life to technical writing. Nevertheless, is video still really worth it?
Selly BAL – Adel Yann BENZENATI – Heritiana RATSIMBAZAFY
Paris Diderot University, 2018/2019
Living with a disability in our society doesn’t necessarily mean needing constant care. However, it means having to adapt everyday: because the world we live in has not adapted to disabilities yet. This is a comment we can apply to technical communication, an activity in which the purpose is to make information accessible to an audience, but where accessibility guidelines are still rare to be found. We attempted with this paper to inquire about the current situation of accessibility to people with disabilities, focusing on visual and hearing impairment. We conducted a survey on technical communication professionals with different experiences and contacted various technical writers with the objective of presenting the norms that already exist in terms of accessibility and showing what’s still missing – with that, we tried to present an analysis of the reasons for the scarcity of norms in technical writing.
We come from different cultural and educational backgrounds and decided to analyze and focus on how colors may influence readability and, therefore, comprehension on technical documentation. This matter came after we browsed a website from a marketplace corporation and we noticed that there was a lack of harmony and synchronicity between its marketing and documentation website. We noticed it mainly because the visual identity, particularly the use of colors and icons, was absolutely discordant. It was remarkable that the two websites were developed by different teams, what could eventually reveal an internal noise in communication, or even some problem in the enterprise architecture. A simple misuse of colors can reveal much more than aesthetics, design or layout. And this seemed quite impressive to us. The color approach however can be very large, with multi-disciplinary, underestimated, usually treated randomly and not too scientific under the gaze of the academic community. We want to show that it can be theory-based and, by means of a user test, we intend to prove – practically – that colors should be treated with the importance they deserve, far beyond aesthetics and layout. After applying a user test, we noticed that users react differently face to face with a colored and a black and white document.
Our world is increasingly virtual. Digitalization has been taking over every industry during the last few decades, and user experience and assistance is no exception. Reality and the virtual world were divided by a gap that seemed unbridgeable until recently. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) allow users to go beyond previous limitations. Users can learn and practice without being held back by the limitations of the real world.
AR and VR are not brand-new inventions. The praise they received the last few years is related to recent technical innovations such as advances in computational power, storage, graphics, and high-definition displays. These progresses opened the way to immersive technologies that were previously burdened with wires, heavy headsets, and poor graphics. Today, light, wireless hardware, and beautiful graphics immerse the user in a virtual world better than before. But innovation won’t stop there, as it is expected that $20,4 billion will be invested in AR and VR, an 68% increase 68% compared to the $12,1 billion spent in 2018. This growing interest for AR and VR is shared by a wide range of industries such as engineering, medicine, and even softwares.
Each finds its own in immersive reality. How do companies use AR and VR? To what extent do they enhance the User Experience? Are they the future of the user assistance, or just trendy gadgets?
After considering what are AR and VR and their usages, we will discuss their influence on User Experience (UX), their values, and what their future may be in the technical communication industry.
Laure Bach-Barast – Laetitia Bossu – Justine Gaucherand- Sarah Lasaracina
Paris Diderot University, 2017, July 31
Most people do not read user guides on their own initiative. When they do, it is often because they have no choice, or when they encounter a problem and need a solution. According to the general public composed of a representative sample of 105 people surveyed for our research purpose, guides are deemed plain, unattractive and people usually feel compelled to read them. Indeed, reading user manuals require a certain effort that people are not always ready or willing to make. Hence, they already have a somewhat biased view of the guide even before opening it. Thus, it might be interesting to wonder if a compelling documentation can improve user experience. User Experience implies not only the use of the product, but also the quality of documentation, if it answers questions and solves potential problems in the best, quickest, and most fluent way. User Experience is a cause-and-effect relationship between documentation and the product: the better the information, the better the use will be. However, is it possible to make documentation more compelling in the first place? How can technical writers alleviate the global reluctance to user guides? This paper provides possible solutions in order to make user manuals more compelling to users.
Saran Kante, Clémence Bolinga, Dina Radaoarisoa
Companies put customers’ needs at the center of their strategy to build a relation of trust and increase customer’s loyalty to their products. In their effort, companies become more and more prone to offer customers a linear experience from the moment they are attracted by the perspective of buying a product or service (marketing) up to after their buying act when they start using the product or service (technical communication). The quality of both marketing and technical content is crucial.
We wanted to have an insight of what experts of technical communication and marketing think of a possibility for these two services to collaborate. In order to get this information
we interviewed professionals from these two fields, we attended conferences and seminars on the subject of combining technical content with marketing content to unify customer experience.
Companies undertaking such a change should thoroughly study the transition process, the product and the profit.
One of the challenges a company would face is how to make two services that are used to working separately pool their skills to achieve a common goal which is to provide their users a high quality service. The credibility customers grant to a company depends on it.
Because the two services use their own terminology to achieve their respective goals, they would need to reach an agreement on the terms they are both going to use to produce their content.