News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201 • Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
University's Online Help Collection
Is Useful Resource for Computer Users
MAILED: July 30, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — At one time or another most computer users have software questions or need documentation to help them figure out a new or little-used application. Chances are the answers to their questions can be found in the Online Help Collection, located on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Web site.
The collection is made up of more than 1,200 individual Web pages. It contains documentation for almost all university-supported software.
From general topics, such as how to register online, to more specific software, such as documentation for particular programs like Microsoft Publisher, the ITM Online Help Collection is a free resource for any Internet user, on and off campus.
"The collection has generated e-mails from across the United States, including K-12 school districts, universities, government offices, law firms, medical doctors and many others," said Kathleen Finder, who has worked with the collection for more than 10 years. "Outside the U.S. we have received e-mails from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Uzbekistan to name a few."
For the most part, the collection is tailored to the needs of university students, faculty and staff, Finder said. For example, faculty can find documentation for how to send grades to their students by e-mail.
"With minimal set-up, they can send a personalized e-mail message with the student's grade to each of their students in just a matter of minutes," Finder said.
The online collection is written, edited and refined by a team of students, primarily technical writing majors and minors, Finder said. About six students work as interns and paid employees each semester. In addition, students in technical editing and writing classes contribute to the collection through independent studies.
"It provides an excellent opportunity for the students to apply what they learn in the classroom. Typically their editing skills skyrocket from the experience," Finder said. "For select companies, this kind of experience can make a big difference on a resume or in a job interview."
When a former student employee, for example, was asked during a technical writing job interview to write instructions for making a paper airplane, she used the ITM formula for writing documentation and landed the job.
"The employer said her instructions were the best of all the applicants in terms of clarity and editing accuracy, plus they were written in the shortest amount of time," Finder said.
The documentation contained in the collection is meant to be a reference, not a step-by-step tutorial, Finder said. Much of it evolved from earlier print and text-based versions. Workshops and one-on-one help complement the documentation in the collection for university students, faculty and staff.
On occasion, Finder gets calls about something that isn't covered in the collection. When that happens, the request goes into the project bin. "The requests are prioritized, according to their importance to faculty, students and staff," she said. "We're constantly expanding and refining the collection."
[Refer to the Online Help Collection]
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 30, 2002