This is Part 9 of the Global Bicycle Inc. (GBI 2.0) story, as related by an intern. The full series begins with Global Bicycle Inc.: An Intern Adventure
GBI Exercise Creation
Basic research and development was completed. The clients were coming out almost perfect, and we had testing down to a near art. It was now time to create the exercises to go along with the training environment. Up until this point, we had been using exercises created at GVSU for use with the SSB training environment (first referenced in Global Bicycle Inc.: An Intern Adventure. Part 2.1). The process steps were the same; we would just substitute random materials in when we were testing. It was now time to create a formalized set of exercises, with their own new style, that would completely cover the TERP10 SAP certification process. The fun began.
If you have never had the distinct joyful please of creating templates and styles in Microsoft Word, it is a particular brand of fun you are missing out on. The SSB exercises had their own style set, and the GBI Steering Committee wanted the GBI exercise to have their own, unique style set. Different headers, different footers, different menu paths, different colors; it basically was to be all different. In the words of Dr. Magal, it was to be: “cool.”
Like most things that are extremely useful in life, creating styles in Microsoft Word sometimes required the use of a few Excedrin to hold off the pounding headache. If you are not familiar with styles, the premise is simple. Pretend you want all of the SAP Navigation Menu Paths bolded throughout the entire exercise. You could highlight each one, and then click on “bold.” What happens if you want that say, the color red instead of bold? Well now you have a lot of work to do to change it all. Instead, you create a style called “SAP Navigation Menu Paths” that when applied, will ‘bold” the Navigation Path. This way, if you decide you want to change the Navigation Path from bold to red, you simply change the style, and all the bold words become red. Thus, styles are a pretty useful feature indeed; except for the fact that to have a useful style for every facet of the document required about 20 different styles. Creating and managing all of these was quite the experience, and despite our best efforts, was only partially successful.
We had the styles, now we needed to create the template that all of the exercises would be based off of. This entailed determining what the headers would look like, where would they be placed, how the exercise would be laid out, how the steps would be numbered, etc. etc.. This aspect took multiple revisions, and the format of the exercise was not truly completed until probably the end of the creation of all of the exercises. As we went through the process, we would find something that would work better than what we had, so we would have to go back and update everything just completed.
Microsoft Word has this unique feature that allows you to link a document to a specific template. Then, if you make a change to the template, the change will be automatically realized in whatever documents are attached to it. The theory was that all the styles would be maintained in the template, and all the exercise documents would be attached to the template, so when a change was made in the template, all of the exercises would be automatically updated, thus saving us interns a lot of work. That was the theory. As with some things in life, theory and practice do not always go hand in hand. The theory only works if all of the documents are continually stored in the same folder structure and location. Enter six different people all writing, editing, and revising the exercises, all on their own personal computers, all at different times, and the theory was quickly banished.
In retrospect, one intern should have been responsible for storing the exercises and managing the styles. The other interns should have emailed the exercises to this one intern once a week, and getting them back the next week. This way, one intern would have been responsible for managing the styles, making sure they were used (and used correctly), and for keeping all of the documents linked. Live and learn.
If you asked any of the interns what the least fun part of the project was, they will almost all without a doubt tell you, “creating and testing the exercises.” This entailed going through the exercise time after time after time after time in the SAP system. All manner of details were looked at: is the screen name correct, is the navigation path correct, are the answers on the Professor Version correct, is the grammar and punctuation correct, etc. etc.
If you have never had the joy of playing around with templates and styles in Microsoft Word, and of creating exercises that all had to mesh and flow, you are missing out on a great life experience. We spent almost as much time creating, revising, editing, re-revising, re-editing, re-re-revising, and re-re-reediting, exercises as we did on the entire research/ development/ configuration phase. We kept at it, and finally, we had a good solid set of GBI exercises.