2 min read

DITA for Learning and Training: A New Approach

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As many of you know, the DITA for Learning and Training specialization never got much traction. Without going into all of the history, it seems that by the time the specification was originally published it was already out of synch with the market. Most of the work was targeted around classroom training which had been declining in favor of “eLearning,” and while there were extensions for new elements like Learning Objectives and Multiple Choice questions, it was insufficient with regards to web-based training requirements, including interactive exercises, assessment options, SCORM, and more.

From what we have been told, the DITA for Learning and Training Specialization will not be brought forward when the new DITA 2.0 specification is released. Oddly enough, with the increased need for video in customer education, there has never been a better time to leverage your technical documentation for learning and training! Videate makes reusing XML content easy and provides a set of optional features and tags that allows you to customize your software videos.

If you already write concepts and tasks, you are most of the way there. The only thing missing is the sample data to fill in fields as Videate navigates your software. You probably have this written down somewhere, either in a test plan or a demo script. By adding this to your DITA docs, you can drive the videos just like any other output and it will have no impact on your existing publications.

Concepts can be easily used to include learning objectives and overviews, scenarios or activities. These can be presented in a number of different display options, including slides embedded in the videos. Tasks are great for the software navigation instructions especially if you already use tags like <uicontrol>. And if you don’t already include sample data, Videate can use simple name-value pairs to make this easy to maintain as we said above.

Here are just a few of the benefits of leveraging your existing DITA content for software videos.

  1. When your product documentation is ready, so are the videos. With Videate, you can automatically generate a full video library in an hour, not weeks or months.
  2. You can quickly make changes using the technology you already have. Next time marketing needs to change a product name or rename a button you can programmatically update your videos and all of your screenshots.
  3. You can create hundreds or even thousands of short videos and organize them in playlists just like DITA maps. Want to deliver personalized videos to different users? No problem.
  4. You can localize videos into multiple languages using the same translation workflow you already use for product documentation. Your choice, closed captions (sub-titles) or native language videos. No extra cost.

With Videate you can quickly extend your content and finally partner with Customer Education. There’s no debate from Instructional Designers if they can make better videos using eLearning tools. Videate can make software videos at scale and they can work on higher value tasks. It’s a win-win situation. DITA for Learning and Training finally works. And you don’t need any specializations, just plain old DITA.

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