Sunday, March 25, 2007

When words are not enough

Sun has new comics site.. This article discusses the successful use of those comics ...

"Today I wanted to share with you an interesting experience about using comics to help students with their first login to our e-classroom. Let me do by explaining a bit of background to the story. Many of the courses at out faculty are in some way or another supported by our e-classroom (based on Moodle) and so most of our students need the access to our e-classroom to get study materials or participate in other study activities. For their first login students are asked to enter their unique student number as their username and password (which they can of course change later). This works for most of the students, though some students (like those that enrolled after the official beginning of the study year) don't yet have an account created, because they weren't included in the transmission of student data from the faculty's information system. Yes sure, we could figure out a better way to automatically create student accounts, but the current system works well for most students.

Now, all I've just described above was clearly explained to our students on the first page of our e-classroom. We provided students with short and concise instructions on what they should do on their first login and what they should do (email our Center for e-learning) if that didn't work. We thought the instructions were clear enough, but a great number of students disagreed. We were getting a dozen mails per day by confused or frustrated students that couldn't get in the e-classroom and were asking for help. Many mails did not include the information we asked students to include when asking for help. And we saw that as a big problem. Clearly, too many students were not able to properly understand (decode) the given instructions. Also, they were experiencing confusion and frustration, which is definitely not something you'd want students to experience when first meeting a new technology. First impressions matter, right?

This problem has troubled me for some time. I was trying to think of better ways to explain the login procedure to students and the solution that helped to solve at least a bit of the problem was found almost by chance. I almost accidentally stumbled upon the post Design Comics Templates 1.0, Part I on Martin Hardee's blog, which provided wonderfully illustrated characters and scenes that can be used for comic storyboards. I immediately fell in love with the pictures and started thinking about ways in which I could use them. At first it was almost a joke, but I decided to make a short comic explaining the login process of our e-classroom. The pictures were perfect for this. I used Comic Life (the basic version comes free with Mac OS X) to create the comic and we decided to put them on the first page of our e-classroom, above the written instructions. The login page of our e-classroom now looks like this:"    (Continued via iAlja)    [Usability Resources]

Application of Comics - Usability, User Interface Design

Application of Comics


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