Teaching Journal: Documentum Training (After)

logo-documentum-full.gifYesterday I conducted Documentum Web Publisher training for a group of students. Four of the students were part of a project within the Information Systems & Technology department, tasked with creating an EcoCAR Challenge web site. This is an effort involving Missouri S&T and several other higher-education institutions to create the best, most ecologically friendly car (similar to the biannual solar car challenge, I suppose). The remaining student is working for the Civil, Architectural, & Environmental Engineering department.

It’s been awhile since I’ve taught Documentum. In the past, I’ve mostly had to deal with administrative support staff and a few faculty. This was the first time that I’ve had to teach a group of students. To make things just a little more interesting, I was the only native-speaker of English in the room. Everyone else was from India (I think–one of them might have been from Sri Lanka or a related nation in the same general geographic location).

At first, everything seemed to go pretty well. Some of the students arrived late, so I had to backtrack a little bit to get them caught up to the two students who were on time. I explained how the interface worked and what we would be doing during the class. Since time was limited, I really just focussed on the following:

  1. Upload an image.
  2. Upload a document.
  3. Create a web page.
  4. Web page should have the following features: external link, relative link to another page within the site, bookmark link to location on the same web page, at least one image, and at least one link to a document.

Unfortunately, when we finally got to the point of creating a web page, we ran into some technical difficulties. For whatever reason, Documentum was giving us some strange error messages when we tried to do anything. I didn’t have any difficulties on the instructor stations, but the students certainly did. I managed to get a hold of the web development support team. They all came over to investigate what was happening to the machines. Apparently, the Java Runtime Environment required to use the Documentum web page editor was experiencing some sort of conflict with another component that had mistakenly been installed on those machines.

We did manage to get a web page created for everyone in the room. All of the students were able to access their web pages through a web browser to see what they had done.

Even on the best of days, Documentum can cause issues and frustration.  It is even worse when you are trying to teach it to someone else who has never seen it before, especially when the technology refuses to cooperate.