Perfectly Targeted Instruction

I have this nifty hdvideomacbook pro laptop which I bought a couple of years ago. Like each machine I have loved, this one has quickly filled up. It started warning me about this state of affairs in January. I was able to get rid of some stuff and keep it happy for a while, but by last month, the low hanging fruit had all been tossed.  It was time to upgrade.

A quick googling around assured me that I could indeed replace my 100 gig hard drive with one three times as big. Cool! But also, that this process is sort of involved, a lot more involved than hard disk replacement on a macbook, or on my old Toshiba, in which basically all you had to do was take out a screw or two, give a yank, and push the new one in.  No, for the macbook pro, you have to loosen a dozen some screws, remove the keyboard, and get right down into the guts of the machine.

So I thought well, ok, maybe I need to entrust this job to a professional. But calling around, the pros who were willing to do it are all 40 minutes to an hour away, and would require me to leave my precious machine in their custody for several days.  They’d charge from $80 to $150 to do the labor, which is reasonable for a fairly involved bit of surgery, but none of them stock the new 320 gig drive, just the 250 gig size.

Well, shoot. Back to the drawing board. Or Google. Which sent me to Other World Computing where not only do they sell the parts I’m looking for, but they publish installation VIDEOS in which an affable, knowledgeable, calm repair guy performs the replacement procedure and talks the viewer through it.

I watched the video, and decided that yes, even though I’d botched a similar surgery on my trusty old Toshiba laptop a coupla years ago (In attempting to replace the fan, I sliced through fan wires. Not good. Note that the macbook dates from shortly after this adventure!) with the guidance of the nice guy in the video, I could do this.

So I placed my order with the other world folks. The parts came, I set up a workspace in front of my desktop screen, cued up the video, and went to work. The difference between this experience and the Toshiba one was significant. With the Toshiba, I had the help of some excellent web pages with still photos.  But to be able to hear the sound the keyboard should make when it comes up, and to watch the tech struggle a bit to wiggle the disk into place conferred subtle but important information which would have been really difficult to communicate textually, or even with still photography.

The video was very basic. Production values were Spartan. Clear audio, clear video, and the calm, confident voice of the narrator were the primary ingredients. That OWC did not edit down the portions which took longer to do than they probably should have helped, too. It gave me confidence pre-purchase that I was seeing a real person doing a real task, in which complications sometimes arise, and more confidence as I re-watched while doing the task, that the difficulties were easily surmountable. And indeed they were.  Half an hour later, I was merrily performing a disk restore to my newly capacious machine.

I’m sure I am not the only person who has made a purchase based on the availability of online training for the task I needed to do. Of course, it’s a little easier, when selling parts, to imagine with some certainty what the learning needs of your public might be.

It makes me wonder, though, what percentage of the training programs we e-learning providers are offering hit that sweet spot, effectively teaching exactly what learners need to know, in a way which permits them to immediately and effectively apply that learning?