Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Developing training materials

At the start of the RePosit project (and probably even before then), one of the planned outputs was a set of generic training materials (user based) to help other repository managers should they head down the route of linking their CRIS to their repository.

There is a huge assumption implicit in this however, and one which we as a project group have found difficult to resolve and reconcile. In essence, regardless of the software you are using for either CRIS or repository, there is an assumption that the underlying process is at least similar if not the same. This is perhaps a little naive and has certainly been a bit of a stumbling block.

On a very basic level, when you present this model to your users, what you want to get across is:
All done through the same interface, no need to toggle between CRIS and repository, all done at the same time in one simple set of steps

In technical terms, this is broadly the case (login, find publication, browse to find file, upload file). However, when attempting to apply this to a simple (generic) how-to guide, it turns out it's not so simple afterall. Really obvious, really basic actions become really important: logging in, for example. How do you describe what actions constitute the logging in process? If everyone used the same CRIS software, this wouldn't be an issue (other than for the Competition Commission), log in would just be 'log in', simply because there would only be one way to do it. Similarly, getting to the point of browsing for the file to upload would be just 'find publication', all actions could be illustrated with a few snappy screenshots and you'd be done. When you're not using the same software though, it's hard to provide a simple set of instructions that doesn't become obsolete by its very vagueness.

There's also the problem of what the 'link' between your systems is called (if it has a name other than 'link thingy') and the fact that we're all using different repository software too.

In reality, whilst it would be nice to say we could produce glossy guides and materials that will just provide you with a complete package for your CRIS-Repository set up project, the honest truth is, some things you'll just have to do yourself or need to be software and local implementation specific and best dealt with by you or your vendors.

We love collaboration, but now and again, it can make something simple really, really complicated!

Sarah Molloy, Research Support Librarian (Repository and Publications System Manager) Queen Mary, University of London

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