Potential volunteer offering technical writing

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at laptop.org.au
Sun Oct 30 20:45:46 EDT 2011

On 30 September 2011 19:51, Tabitha Roder <tabitha at tabitha.net.nz> wrote:
> Hi
> If we had a volunteer (English Native language) professional technical
> writer, what writing would be of most use to OLPC or Sugar that we can point
> her in the direction of? She currently works with developers to write end
> user documentation.
> Thanks
> Tabitha - NZ volunteers

I think the most important thing is to identify and focus on the
target audience - is the documentation meant for technical users, end
users, teachers, children...?

We (OLPC Australia) would be happy to suggest ways in which the
documentation can be improved, using our experience from working
directly with teachers and communities. Our online course
(http://laptop.moodle.com.au/ - you can log in as a guest) might
provide some inspiration.

Our Education Manager has some advice, based on her experiences with
reading the publicly-available documentation:

-          Make sure the Sugar and XO Floss manuals are up-to-date,
easily readable and have all the necessary information.

-          Externally available documentation: It’s imperative that
minimal knowledge is assumed, which I think is the hardest part. Pages
need to have less information rather than more, good user interfaces,
lots of useful images, clear headings and language that is simple and
precise. My concern with a lot of the external documentation is that
it is sometimes overwhelming, difficult to navigate (both between
pages and within them) and written for a technical audience rather
than a basic user. Trying to target both a technical audience and a
basic user in the same documentation means you are more likely to lose
the basic user. Perhaps some of this documentation needs to be
separate out. The main issue I see with the Wiki is that it’s
difficult to navigate and find information from the menus. This isn’t,
per say, the role of a technical writer, but tidying up navigation in
the Wiki would make it more accessible.

-          Someone to simply document the activities available
(purpose of the activity, how to use it, any tips that are not easily
discoverable, and what you can DO with it- exemplars of use)

-          There are lesson ideas and examples of practice all over
the place. It would be amazing to synthesise this as much as possible,
so they are not so difficult and time consuming to find, and to put
them in a uniform format. I’m not sure what the best way to approach
this is, but from an educational perspective, knowing not just HOW to
use the XOs but WHAT to do with them is far more important. Making
these ideas easily accessible, in my mind, is quite important.


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