University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Show and Tell

Instruction manual to "how to" film

Showing is almost always better than telling when it comes to teaching people how to use new technology, according to Professor Ronald Baecker of computer science. Asked to choose between a weighty instruction manual and a short “how-to” film, he says most consumers will pick the fast, visual information. The chair holder in human-computer interaction at the Bell Canada University Labs at U of T uses graphic design, cinematography, animation and audio to create multimedia “movies” that show users how things work. Until now, most companies lacked the skills and equipment to produce these films. So Baecker and his research team designed a simple software program that allows manufacturers to make these movies. “A few years from now,” he says, “everyone will expect to find visual support in the products they purchase.”

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