Forum LAMS for Tech-Heads - General Forum: Re: Previous Activity or the image of a Left Arrow Button


12: Re: Previous Activity or the image of a Left Arrow Button
In response to 1 03/13/11 11:12 PM
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There are lots of great ideas here from everyone - many thanks! My thoughts:

- I like the general idea of adding a new "Previous Activity" button. As Ernie notes, different tools have different internal workflows, so this will need some care on the details for each tool, but I think the concept of showing a "Previous" button on the initial screen of a new tool is a good idea (as some students will want to go back because they accidentally finished the previous task when they didn't mean to); and then separately, showing a "Previous" button where you would also find the "Next Activity" button in the main part of the tool (NB: the "Next" button may not be visible at first due to things that need to be done in the tool; so I wouldn't have the Previous button shown here until the Next button shows up - the fact you have a Previous button on the initial page solves the need for it to be somewhere in the meantime). We'll need to check all this tool by tool to make sure we don't get odd behaviour, but I think this would be about right. I wouldn't expect to see a "Previous" button on every screen in a tool (eg, Forum doesn't show a "Next" button inside threads - only on the top level page - so I'd retain this convention.)

- While I appreciate the arguments for a single Learner window, I think in this case we need to accept a second (pop-up) window for the "Previous" button - I'll call this the "Previous" window from here on. This keeps the behaviour the same as the current double click function on the Navigation bar; but also, I think it is very important to have the "Current" activity for a student open at all times. In many cases, use of the Previous button is just for reviewing (rather than further contributions), so I'd like to retain some sense of a difference between the current task (where the student is *doing* something) as opposed to the Previous window (which is often not doing something - although there are important exceptions such as Forum) - hence two separate windows

- In terms of windows and the navigation bar, the current functionality doesn't allow more than one "Previous" window. If you try to open a second "previous" activity, it loads this into the existing "Previous" window, meaning that you lose whatever previous activity view you had before. We did this to avoid having too many windows open at once, but I can imagine special cases where you might really want 3 windows open at once - more discussion of this below. On a separate note, there is a bug (I think) that if you have the "Previous" window in the background, and you click on a different activity in main nav bar, it does not bring the "Previous" window to the front - so if the "Previous" window is hidden behind the current tool window, there is no indication that anything has happened at all. This needs fixing.

- The number of windows issues is relevant to having a "Previous" button inside windows opened using the "Previous" option or via the Navigation. That is, can you navigate all the way back through a sequence (and forward too) inside the "Previous" window (leaving the current activity window untouched during this time)? My sense is yes, but this would mean not having 3 windows, and hence only seeing one of your previous activities at a time.

-We still need to solve the problem of the "Next Activity" button inside "Previous" windows, as the current behaviour is not what the button says - it closes the window rather than going to the Next activity. If the suggestion above works (ie, you can navigate back and forward through a sequence within the "Previous" window), then we'd keep the "Next Activity" button when viewing in the "Previous" window (and the button would work as it says). But there is an important exception - the tool immediately before the tool in the Current window. In this case, I'd suggest we change the text of this button to "Close this window" or alternatively remove this button (when in the Previous window view). This requirement is probably a bit of a pain on the programming side, as the tools would need to know whether or not the student is viewing the tool just before their "current" tool, and then change its button behaviour accordingly, but from a Learner point of view I think this would be the best option.

-Not sure what to do with Support Activities - this may be another case where there is an argument for allowing a "third" window - but in this case, it doesn't go anywhere (no next or previous button).

So if on balance most people agree with the suggestions above, it seems to me that the key decision is to stick with only allowing 2 windows at any one time. I'd lean towards staying with 2, as I think the cases of needing 3 open at the same time are quite rare, whereas the student UI with 3+ windows open gets pretty messy, especially for new LAMS students.

But I'm a bit torn by this personally, and wonder whether we add a special option to solve this, like a right click on the Nav bar to intentionally open a past tool into a new (3rd or more) window for the special cases where this is needed. If we allow this, then I think the third window would behave just like the second window (ie, allow navigating around the sequence internally).

Posted by James Dalziel

14: Re: Re: Previous Activity or the image of a Left Arrow Button
In response to 12 03/14/11 12:26 PM
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Sorry, I got a really nasty suggestion. Nasty, because it's probably too expensive. After that kind of discussion, a UxD or IxD person definitively would tell you that the only persons who could tell are users (students in our case).

I frankly don't know what to think, because I can handle most kinds of software and (usually) don't get lost in multi-window applications and complex navigation schemes. But *I* am not a normal person, and you ain't either :)

So how about testing a few design alternatives with a prototype and about 5 students ? Can be a mockup of course. Don't know if you have any for your next generation LAMS client, but if you do, it'd be the way to go. Also, you might have a usability or UxD class in your department and convince your colleague to lend a student doing his/her term-paper on this....

Posted by Daniel Schneider

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