Minimalistic Tutorials and More User Studies

  • Jun 28, 2012
  • 1 Comment


This past week I did a lot of swapping back and forth between user study stuff and working on my project, like the last week.  However, as we are progressing, I am finding out that the two are relatively connected.  So, working on one is helping the work on the other. 

I spent some time looking more into ways to make tutorials more interactive, and discovered a few papers about Tangible Interfaces for Collaborative Learning Environments.  The researchers have developed a prototype system that “watches” as students play with Tangram pieces on a physical tabletop, and acts as a “guide on the side” by offering help at appropriate times.  This specific case does not so much apply to Looking Glass, but I thought the idea behind it was fairly interesting.  So for us, the user model can keep track of what a kid interacts with (apparently it’s also in Transaction History) during the puzzle-tutorials, and help nudge them in the right direction.  It knows what they are doing, and it knows what they should be doing, so it can help direct them to their goal.  I definitely like the idea of users having something to solve, instead of just mindlessly clicking buttons.

I went to a few user studies this week, one on Monday and another on Friday.  We have seen similar results for most of the participants we get.  Caitlin, Kyle and I had a meeting about the user studies, and discussed what was going on, and where to go from there, which seemed very beneficial to me.  I always like to get status updates.

We also had an epic meeting about badges, that consisted of creating post-it diagrams/creations and sticking them all over the walls of the conference room.  I missed part two of the badges meeting, so I’m not sure of what was decided, but I feel the work I did on Tuesday for my part was helpful to my user model.  A lot of the aspects Michael, Patrick and I were working with could be things to monitor and track in the user model.

I’ve also started working on the first concrete thing to add to my project of personalizing tutorials, and it also fits nicely along with the user study.  The idea is minimalizing the amount of information we throw at users each time they have a tutorial.  The way we have it now, we are presenting too much information, and they just tune out and click through, while not really absorbing any of the information.  So, that when they get to the transfer task we have created, they can’t do it, since they don’t remember any of the steps they did previously in the tutorial.  To address this issue, we thought that perhaps offering information in segments was a better approach.  The tutorials would start out telling the users how to play the world, what a do in order is, and maybe what a do together is, and steps containing any other information would be done automatically.  I feel that this would create more direction in their learning, as well as make it easier to learn concepts in general.  You don’t throw a whole textbook of information at someone, you give them chapters at a time.  So subsequent tutorials would introduce a few other new concepts, and so on and so forth, with increasing difficulty, as the user model decides they are ready. 

With all this in mind, I started working on sketching this out Tuesday afternoon, and a bit before the user study we had on Wednesday.  I have since then been working on actually implementing this in the code, so that it can be tested in our user study on the following Tuesday.  This has mostly meant digging around in the code and trying to figure out what everything does.  I feel like I’ve made some headway here, but I haven’t quite located what I need to, to make these changes to the tutorial process. I will continue working on this tomorrow, and into Monday if I haven’t completed it by then.



  • caitlin

    caitlin said:

    <p>I'm glad to hear that you're seeing the parallels in all the different things we've been asking you to do. That's the ideal situation, really.&nbsp; I'm also excited to hear that you've been digging into related work on user modeling. Getting at least a little bit of a picture of how people have handled similar problems can often help to raise issues we might not think to raise at first. Nice job!</p>

    Posted on Jun 29, 2012

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