Blogs • 11 Feb 2022

How to deal with software training: tips & tricks to stimulate your learners

The most popular and efficient way to deal with software training is to make software recordings.

What are software recordings? Software recordings are a series of screen captures that simulate software navigation and processes, showing the mouse movements, clicks, and actions performed in the software. 

Why are software recordings useful? We all know that knowledge without experience is nearly useless. And that is what makes software recordings such a powerful tool. They provide learners with the necessary knowledge and simulate, at the same time, the experience. 

We have made a list of the most essential tips and tricks (before recording and after recording) that will help you to do enhancing software simulations for your learners. 

Before recording tips

Before you start recording, you should prepare the software you want to record, make a recording plan and align on recording guidelines. Good preparation will save time with the post-editing work of your recordings. 

Tip 1: Prepare the software and clean up your desktop

You typically create your software simulations in a test environment of the software to avoid impacting real-life data in the production environment. The challenge for the author or SME will be to find the same visual settings, options, examples, and data as in the production environment. Your recording area should as much as possible look like how the learner will see it.

How you can achieve that:

  • Ask for the same user rights to the software as the learners have. This way, your interface will look exactly like theirs and you will have the same functionalities.
  • Use the same visual and functional default settings that the learners will have. This includes the theme, colors, icons and software language.
  • Avoid personalizing the software with favorites or shortcuts, it might be confusing for learners.
  • Ask software admins or key users to create more meaningful data and relevant examples and avoid random "Test examples".

You should also think about cleaning up your desktop. You make screen recordings, which means everything that is on your screen will be recorded. Delete irrelevant icons, shortcuts, and favorites on your desktop to not distract the learner. Disable Teams messages, Outlook, or other pop-ups and notifications except when you want them to be part of your training.

Clean versus messy desktop

Tip 2: Have a precise plan of the process steps that you want to record

Before you start recording, it's wise to clearly plan the steps you want to record. Make a list of sequential steps that need to be performed in the software. It will be your guideline while recording for a clear final result.

Make a "test round" to verify upfront that you use good examples. You will avoid unexpected error messages, and you save precious time with post-editing.

Example of a recording plan: “How to create a Purchase Order in S/4HANA”

S/4HANA purchase order recording

Tip 3: Agree on recording settings or use recording templates

It's crucial to make visually coherent recordings, especially when big teams collaborate on recording projects
For example, an SME using a low display resolution of his PC while recording will have larger screenshots in his recording. Whereas an SME using a high display resolution will make recordings with smaller screenshots. 

The best way to ensure consistency is to agree on recording settings to be used by every SME or author and communicate them. Some authoring tools allow you to use recording templates.

Align on the following recording settings:

  • Zoom settings and display resolution (of the PC or laptop)
  • Recording dimensions of the recorded area and/or recording profile (in the re-cording tool)
  • The theme, language, and other visual settings (of the software to be recorded) 
  • Zoom settings of the Browser (if software to be recorded is used in a Browser)

During recording tips

There are also a couple of things to consider while you are recording the software. For example, using the functions and following the instructions of the recorder bar will save a lot of time with post-editing. Avoiding keyboard shortcuts and scrolling will make your recordings look better when you play them. Let’s have a look!

Tip 1: Get familiar with the recorder bar

Make sure that you are familiar with the recorder bar of your recording tool. Often it provides you with important instructions like “you can record”, “please wait”, “you are on pause”. Additionally, it provides you with useful functions while recording like “pause the recording”, “go a step back” or “insert an explanation for the learner”. Use those recorder bar functions, it often saves time with post-editing and avoids that you need to start again.

Example: functions of recorder bar SAP Enable Now

Recording bar SAP Enable Now

Tip 2: Use the computer mouse instead of the keyboard

Use the computer mouse as much as possible to perform actions instead of pressing Enter or keyboard shortcuts. The main goal is that learner sees where you must click in the software. You can always add in the explanations for learners that they can use alternatively a keyboard shortcut.

Example: learner instructions in SAP GUI
“Click on the Execute button to process the transaction. You can also use the keyboard shortcut and press F8.”

Tip 3: Avoid scrolling with the mouse to move to another screen area

Scrolling is an action that is difficult to screen capture, and it can look strange once you play your recording. Don’t scroll, click on the scroll bar instead, or press pause to scroll to another screen area. If you pause the recording, don’t forget to inform the learner that you scrolled down or to the right, etc. otherwise he/she will be lost.

Tip 4: Click anywhere on the screen to capture screens without mouse actions

Most recording tools capture only the screen when you perform an action on the screen. But sometimes you need to capture only the screen without any mouse action or important system messages that are displayed. In this case, click anywhere on the screen to capture those screens.
 

After recording tips

Once you have finished recording the software, you preview the recording and then post-edit it screen by screen. Typically, you add further explanations, highlights, links or adjust mouse clicks and field entries. This is the right moment to add extra value and make your simulation become an enhancing training.

Tip 1: Add structuring, contextual and previewing explanations

For many people, it is difficult to absorb, understand and retain video information and processes simultaneously. That is why it is crucial to clearly structure your recording by adding explanations to the screen captures. Simulations should always include at least an introduction and ending explanation.

Example:

Software training recording tips 1

You can help learners make sense of the process and see the bigger picture by adding contextual explanations to your recordings. The balance between know-how and know-why makes the learners understand the value of their actions.

Example: 

Software training recording tips 1b

For complex simulations that include many process steps, you might consider giving a preview of the main steps of the recorded process. Preparing the learners on what will follow decreases the cognitive load and increases their capacity to learn. For even more clarity, you can use words that describe process steps.

Example: 

Software training recording tips 1c

 

Tip 2: Give meaningful instructions for click actions and links

Click actions are the mouse actions that the learner needs to perform on the screen to fulfill a specific task in the software. It's a common mistake to describe these click actions with the words "Click Here" or "Click on the button/icon". The learners' focus is driven to the mouse click action rather than the task they perform in the software. 

You’d better give meaningful instructions for click actions by adding why the learner needs to click at the end of the sentence. This way, the focus is driven to the task, and learners understand the result of the action

Example:

Software training recording tips 2

The same rule applies if you use links in your software recording. Avoid using the words “Click here”. Learners know that they must click on a link to open it. You should use more task-related verbs instead of the word click.

Example:

Software training recording tips 2b

Tip 3:  Use simple and consistent words and a conversational tone

For software recordings, the best way to engage your learner is to apply a simple, consistent and conversational tone. The positive result is that the learner feels more involved and part of the "conversation", rather than being just a passive watcher or listener. 

How you can achieve that:

  • Avoid the wordy and academic style and use simple and clear language instead.
  • Use concise and consistent terminology. For example, if you say Purchase Order, always use this term, don’t mix up by saying Purchasing Order or Procurement Order.
  • Address the learner directly by using I, you, or we instead of “he/she” or the “learner/user”.
  • Mainly use active voice. The active voice is often more straightforward and engaging because it puts the focus on the actor. Example: The Purchase Order has been saved successfully. Better: You have successfully saved the Purchase Order.

Conclusion

Keep in mind: Before you start recording, prepare the software you want to record, make a recording plan and align on recording guidelines. While recording, make usage of the different recorder bar functions, use the computer mouse instead of the keyboard and avoid scrolling. Once you have finished recording the software, post-edit it screen by screen adding structuring, contextual and previewing explanations using simple and easily understandable language.

These are our very best tips and tricks to enhance your software training. Sure, there are a bunch of other things to consider as well, but the result is worth the think. At Amista we are using SAP Enable Now, which is a great tool to create engaging software recordings. Our experienced E-Learning Consultants can train and support you to make compelling software training. Read more about our Digital Learning offering or download the brochure below.

By Janine Hummelt, SAP Learning Consultant 

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