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Computer gets new Michigan legislators on track.

What do a robin, a tour bus and a symphony orchestra have to do with orienting new lawmakers and staff to their work environment in the Michigan Legislature?

They're all part of a new computer training system developed by Michigan State University and the Legislative Service Bureau. "Bird's Eye View of Legislative Council Services" informs new legislators and staff about the agencies under the Legislature's joint management committee, the Legislative Council.

"Council services--research, bill drafting, library, administrative, printing, etc.--are essential to the legislative process. But we needed a new way to make sure new legislators knew how to use those services," explains LSB Director Elliott Smith. "Bird's Eye View" was the answer. The program uses multimedia, a quickly evolving technology for education and training. Multimedia uses the power of a desktop computer to combine video, animation, sound, graphics and text. Michigan's state bird, the robin, serves as a guide in the program, providing instructions and assistance. A tour bus icon takes the user on a guided tour of all the Capitol Complex buildings. Music from a local symphony orchestra fills in the background.

Like their counterparts in most states, new Michigan legislators go through an orientation session soon after the November elections. During several days of presentations, less than an hour is devoted to the Council, Smith says. And, depending on when they are hired, new legislative employees may receive little or no orientation. While the Council provides a comprehensive briefing book to new members, it functions as an office reference resource rather than an orientation training tool.

The new training program was designed to accommodate users with different needs and varied computer experience. It is easy to use, interesting and entertaining. Users--legislators from all walks of life and new employees, including maintenance staff, computer programmers, pages, attorneys, secretaries--can navigate through the program and explore information any way they want.

Response to the program is encouraging, Smith says. "'Bird's Eye View' will hopefully be a model for other multimedia projects dealing with the legislative process and state government."
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Title Annotation:On First Reading
Publication:State Legislatures
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:339
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