DITA for Publishing Educational Content

This case study follows a three-year project to implement a new DITA-based solution for learning content developed for the global construction industry. It recounts an adventure undertaken to completely rework a publishing process that had become stuck in an untenable situation. It had become trapped between the publisher’s inefficient legacy DocBook system and the equally inefficient HTML5-based system that the publisher was attempting to deploy. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) found itself caught in the middle.

This case study reviews the panoply of issues that had accumulated and the reasoning that was applied to defining a solution. The case study also looks at how DITA, and an approach called Lean DITA, were used to implement a solution that extricated NCCER from its predicament. Finally, this study reviews some of the transition challenges being worked through and considers how the new solution positions NCCER to push forward in new directions.

Gollner tackles a range of topics such as the complexity of learning content, the pressures being felt by commercial publishers, the demands associated with delivering content to mobile devices and business applications, and the challenge of engaging a broad community of subject-matter experts. In tackling such a wide range of topics, this case provides interesting lessons for everyone involved in the content management and publishing business including, it turns out, the presenters.

What can the audience expect to learn?

This case study brings together a fascinating mix of challenges and the experiences of a close-knit and industrious team determined to address them. Whether someone in interested specifically on how learning content can be handled in DITA or more generally curious about how a complex, multi-partner publishing process can be moved over to DITA while the wheels are still turning, this case study holds something of value. The case study will be jointly presented by the team manager and the integrator supporting her, so both perspectives will be brought to bear.

Meet the presenter

Joe Gollner

Joe is the Managing Director of Gnostyx Research Inc. (http://www.gnostyx.com), a company he founded to help organizations to leverage content technologies to achieve sustainable business benefits. Over the last 25 years, he has led over 100 content management initiatives in a wide variety of industries including aerospace, defense, software, telecommunications, engineering, construction, education, publishing, government, and healthcare. He has been leading large-scale and leading-edge DITA projects for global enterprises since 2005. Blogging as the Content Philosopher (http://www.gollner.ca), he continues to explore how content and content processes can be better leveraged to improve how organizations operate, adapt, and manage themselves.

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