"Over at the IxDA Discussion List, Benjamin Ho asked about activities he could use at the end of a presentation he was giving at his company’s annual user conference. I got thinking about different exercises we use when we’re training and thought this was a good time to share some of them.
Activity Option #1: Making a PB&J Sandwich
Minimum Time: 20 minutes
Goal: To enforce the importance of clear user assistance
This is a classic. (I first saw it demonstrated in 1972 by my sixth grade English teacher and I think it’s the only thing about her class I retained.) You ask each attendee to write down instructions for assembling a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Then, taking the raw materials (bread, peanut butter, jelly, a knife) and a randomly chosen set of instructions, you proceed to follow the directions LITERALLY.
For example, if the author never mentions removing the bread from the package, you proceed with to assemble it with the bread still in the bag. “Put the jelly on the bread” is funny in that context. The more literal you interpret the instructions, the funnier it gets. Make the point that this is what real people do when they don’t realize it.
Activity Option #2: Testing Lego Construction
Minimum Time: 40 minutes
Goal: To enforce the benefits of usability testing
We use this for training people on simple observation and moderator skills. We purchase inexpensive Lego sets (well, as inexpensive as it gets, like this one) and have small teams conduct a sample usability test, with one person assembling the kit and two others acting as observers (or one as moderator, if we’ve done the training).
If you can’t get the budget for Lego sets, it also works with origami sets (and there’s a ton of origami instructions on the web)." (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks, Jared Spool) [Usability Resources]