Guide on the Side – Teaching and Training in the Fourth Dimension

Marie Wallace made the transition from an academic to a private law librarian in 1971 and continued in the private sector until her retirement in 1995. She continues to be active in continuing education for private law librarians, and has been a moving force behind the creation and maturation of three programs:

  • Practicing Law Institute’s programs and Course Handbooks on
  • Private Law Libraries, 1977-
  • Southern California Association of Law Libraries Annual
  • Institute on California Law, 1972-
  • TRIPPL (Teaching Research Instruction in Private Law
  • Libraries), 1990-

She has written about private law library management in numerous journals including:

  • American Lawyer Management Service
  • California Lawyer
  • Database End-User
  • zLawyer Hiring and Training Report
  • Legal Information Alert
  • Legal Administrator
  • Legal Assistant Today
  • Legal Economics
  • PLI Course Handbooks on Private Law Libraries

(Archived April 21, 1997)

At the TRIPLL (Teaching Research in Private Law Libraries) conferences, I distinguished between presenters, teachers and trainers. Each type is distinctive, even though they are often combined for teaching and training. With the help of Lexis-Nexis graphic designers, we designed graphics to epitomize each role: Personality on the Stage for the personal experience-oriented presenter, Sage on the Stage for the subject-oriented teacher, and Guide on the Side for the skills-oriented trainer.

I came away from the recent 25th SCALL Institute in San Diego on “Looking Toward the Future” with the impression that there is now a fourth modality or dimension for teaching/training. It is the interactive multimedia information (IMI) system designer–designer for short. Designers use multimedia authoring tools, integrate learning content with work context into a multi-user system and make classroom-based, instructor-led instruction a thing of the past. The slogan I came up with for designers is Hide the Guide. The graphic would incorporate a self-styled navigator, cyberspace, an “ah ha” or “look ma, no hands” expression and a hidden guide.

Wherever you are along the communication spectrum (presenter, teacher, trainer, designer), you need to become more familiar with the IMI framework. The technology is there. Professional trainers are using it out in the “real world.” It is just a matter of time before IMI becomes the norm in law settings.

IMI designed information systems are a solution to the high cost of class-room delivery in terms of instructor and learner time and travel. They are also a paradigm shift. Learning is no longer a separately scheduled event; rather it is built into the information system, accessible wherever and whenever the end-user-learner needs it. Those of you who have designed Web sites are well along on the designer route. Other vehicles might be CDs, disks, information kiosks, Intranet, or Internet.

Some IMI products you might design to share information across the firm via information kiosks or the Intranet could be:

  • Illustrated user-oriented library policies and procedures.
  • Illustrated library “menu” – what we can prepare for you and the firm, and what is made to order.
  • Animated library orientation tour of the plant, services, and products with music.
  • Photographic guide to library personnel, including what they do, how they support the enterprise, and what they sound like.
  • Maps of the Library: layout, conceptual, and relational. Include online sources and navigation tips.
  • Index and search engine to the catalog or OPAC by application, i.d., How to do bankruptcy research.
  • Design the system so the user is able to enter by case, act, Code section, regulation, court rule, topic or jurisdiction and get a pathfinder type summary of the resources including on-line libraries and files.
  • Online file of the firm’s newsletters (including the library’s).
  • Calendar of important firm-wide, local, and library events.
  • Tutorial on how to do cite checking with branches on how to use, the limitations and relative costs of Shepard’s AutoCite, InstaCite, WestCheck, CheckCite, Cite Rite and topics on how to Blue book. Introduce the firm’s standards, i.e., who does cite checking, local modifications of the Blue book.
  • Illustrated step by step guide on how a bill becomes a law at the federal, state, and local city levels complete with audio.

Obstacles to becoming an information designer are that the authoring software needed for IMI is expensive and you may not have the time to learn it. No problem, there is a cottage industry of authoring consultants who can help you convert paper-based training into computer-based training. You don’t need to master yet another software application. MultiTrain International in Long Beach is one such consultant (E-mail: [email protected]) I found a one-day course with MultiTrain to be a mind-expanding experience.

Converting classroom training to computer-based training (CBT) is not a simple matter of taking print materials and digitizing them. There are new dimensions related to content, context, sequence, motifs, and the delivery media. Content is no longer linear. Instead there are many entry points. Information may be context-sensitive or context-independent and still searchable by the end-user as a reference file. There are image maps. Navigation tools must be included to allow users to control access, which is no longer limited to the teacher or trainer.

Those of you who are ready to move into the fourth dimension and to create and communicate with the new media might want to do one or two things this month:

  1. Read Interactivity by Design: Creating & Communicating with New Media by Ray Kristof & Amy Satran, Adobe Press, 1995. It will show you how to go beyond the lecture mode (talking head) and presentation software (basically a linear slide show with optional sound) to the software tools available for designing IMI. Broad competencies are needed for tool selection: multimedia authoring tools, online publishing tools, electronic document software and presentation software. The book condenses how the medium of delivery shapes the design and the difference between public medium via public networks and private medium such CD. I especially liked the graphics and the sections on storyboards.
  2. Look at the offerings of Seminars in Usable Design for 1997 and possibly select one to attend. By law librarian standards the registration fees are a bit pricey. But if my experience is any indication, they are worth it. I took two visual literacy courses from one of the seminar leaders at UCLA Extension in this price range. The courses were fantastic educational investments. A three day conference is about the cost of an AALL conference.

William Horton is the seminar leader I hold in high regard. He is an expert in communicating business and technical information and specializes in the “task of how to get information from one human brain to another.” The two seminars he leads in Usable Design for 1997 are:

Electronic Documents Designing Effective Help Files, Web Pages, CBT, and More and Visual Literacy: Graphics for Electronic Documents, Web Pages, Help Files, CBT, and User Interfaces.

The other seminar topics look good too, although I have am unfamiliar with the seminar leaders:

To register call 303 234-0123 or visit the Web site

Whether you function primarily as a presenter, teacher, trainer or all three, the above two items will assist you to Hide the Guide and to:

  • Target user information more precisely.
  • Learn to express complex ideas via simple graphics.
  • Begin creating and writing electronic documents
  • Communicate in a broader spectrum than the written and spoken word.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Personality on the Stage, the Sage on the Stage, or the Guide on the Side, a matrix follows, contrasting these roles with each other and Hide the Guide. The matrix oversimplifies but highlights how each plays an important role in the many aspects of instructional design, development and delivery.

Component Presenter Teacher Trainer Designer
Purpose Inform
Know subject
Think critically
Change behavior
Improve performance
Be there when and where needed
Needs Analysis Interests gap Subject gap Skill gap Product gap
Learner Objectives Be current Motivated Long term
Immediate Skills Access to info
How to navigate
Design Tell them what you are going to tell them, Tell them,
Tell them what you told them
Tell them how they will be graded
Outline subject
Design tests
Determine what they already know
Determine what they need to know
Fill in the gap
Target users
Determine how users will use
select the right technology
Build prototype
Delivery Personality on the Stage
One size fits all
Sage on the Stage
One size fits all
Guide on the Side
Hide the Guide
User customizes as needed
Setting Professional Academic Work Personal
Communication One-way One-way Two-way Interactive
Tools Stories
Body Language
Vocal Variety
Role Plays
Digital data
Sequence Introduction
Follows the logic of the subject Follows the mastery of skills At the discretion of the user
Delivery Personality on the Stage
One size fits all
Sage on the Stage Guide on the Side
Hide the Guide
Seating Classroom
Theater style
Classroom Chevron
Small Groupings
At the discretion of the user
Media Voice
Web sites
CDs and Disks
Evaluation Applause Survey or none Improved performance Direct comment
System audit

Posted in: Guide on the Side, Training