I think this would improve navigation as the breadcrumb actually has the resources overview page as the previous logical step back even though the student may have accessed the resource directly from the course.
Here is one way that I have addressed this issue: I have added Petr's brilliant add-on book module--you can put anything you want into the content "pages" of the book-flash, pdf's, text, html, etc. On the last page of a "book" (or the first page if there is only one), I made some code changes (see my discussion http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=13372) so that there is an exit button that goes back to the course homepage--both above and below the content. The book module includes a clever table of contents; however, if your resources will only be one page, then you could easily delete the TOC from the book view.php page, leaving you with only the content and your "return" button.
The breadcrumb is nice from a programmer's/webdeveloper's perspective, but the problem is that the flow of the viewers eyes and mouse is down the page as they read/scroll, then they generally want to go right back to where they came from, not the resource's overview page.
A nice back button or "course menu" link on the bottom or end of each resource/activity page would go a long way to making Moodle's inconsistent main navigation (disappearing left menu) more usable for non-experts.
Thanks for the replies
I have used the book module but will look at the modification posted.
I have to agree about loosing the "resources" breadcrumb for students also. Even if this change is made the I think there is still a case for the button to be present. Resources like web pages / text usually mean that the student reads down the page and finished at the bottom. It is therefore logical that when they reach the bottom they have an option.
Whilst on the issue of web pages, it would also be nice if I could add resources to a web page so I can have lots of supportive materials about the the resources IYSWIM.
Yes it is a usability issue
I fully support the concept of a usability forum for issues that do not fit elsewhere. This, however, fits here
But in any case, it was added usability for me since I wanted to reply to this thread anyway.
In answer to your question, this definitely is a usability issue. But more importantly than adding a back button to the bottom of the page (a great suggestion) is I think the rather illogical nature of part of the breadcrumb trail. I'll post the breadcrumb trail from this page as an example and highlight where I see a problem:
Moodle » Using Moodle » Forums » Resource module » Back button at the bottom please???? » Editing
Here is what I think would make more sense:
Moodle » Using Moodle » Forum: Resource module » Back button at the bottom please???? » Editing
You will notice that the difference is subtle, but my suspicion is that if so many people are clammering for a button that takes them back to the main course page, chances are that most people entered the Resource Module Forum from the Using Moodle page. The purpose of the breadcrumb trail is to get people back to where they came from, but if you have to go back through this forums page by which you didn't originally came, then you are going to confuse people.
In fact, I think the organization of any course materials by type of resource or activity should be abandoned altogether. I think probably more students are interested in accessing their course material by the topic or week from which it comes. In fact, the topic name or week could appear in place of the word "forum" in my example above, or even addition to it. I mean, how often are students really interested in seeing all resources grouped together by their kind? It is true, this organization is most meaningful for developers, but not students.
My vote goes to this one
Perhaps there is a case for site configuration of breadcrumbs.
Actually I raised breadcrumbs as feature request in the bug tracker a short while ago. Busy at the moment so can't get link but if you search for it in there you can add your own comments.
Also, if a student does get to the forum from the forum overview then this should be reflected in the breadcrumbs. Likewise with resources and perhaps my propsed back button should take you to either the course or the resources page depending upon where you came from?
Despite the origin of breadcrumb trail metaphor, most (all?) breadcrumb trails actually represent the hierarchy of the site, rather than the path you took to get to the current page. It is, for example, perfectly possible to enter a forum discussion directly from an email (as I have just done) or a variety of other paths.
In this context then, the forum (i.e. current activity type) entry in the breadcrumb trail makes perfect sense (to me at least, though I'm a programmer/webdeveloper, and the tone of some of the discussions recently leads me to think that I therefore am disqualified from having an opinion on usability issues).
Using the week or topic name would also make sense, though using both would possibly be confusing, and of course topics don't actually have a name (though occasionally the starting text from the into label type thing is grabbed and used).
Hi David, I think the problem comes with familiary rather than necessarilly job title. I had the privilege to attend a talk by Jef Raskin a few years ago, where he discussed why the caps lock and insert keys are where they are, for instance (programmers threatened to revolt if they were moved.
I think the main thing is that for folks who are used to how a system works, it seems quite clear and second nature, while when you spend alot of time training people on a system or answering their questions, interface problems become more clear.
This is certainly not unique to Moodle, with our Blackboard trainings there are alot of things about the interface that are uncessisarily complicated or obsfucated as well (getting a 'receipt' that must be 'accepted' for nearly every action, for instance), but there isn't anything that can be done about Blackboard (except switch).
There is also the "Jump" menu in the top-right that generally makes it unnecessary to go back to the course page anyway.
The "index" link (eg Resources) is there to make it clear what sort of activity one is in. In the original Moodle case study I found students initially got a little confused about how a Forum was different to a Journal and so on. Having it in the header all the time is meant to help teach you about the different types of modules within Moodle as you go.
It also provides a convenient link to an overview of that activity ... have you noticed what the Journal overview for a course looks like? My students also found it helpful to see all the Readings (now called Resources) on one page - it provides a (book-like ) table of contents to all the texts in the course.
I do see people's point about including the "Week 1" or "Topic 1" in there ... it would make sense for those two course formats. I guess other course formats could simply leave it out, but this would make the interface inconsistent. Another problem is that such an item would simply link back to the course page anyway and duplicate the course link so what do you do? I think that's probably why I left it out.
Anyhow, one of the things that Jon's recent work on Pages in Moodle will provide is a way of passing the breadcrumb information as an array to be rendered by a central function (currently a string is formatted by the page concerned and passed in-toto .. I wish I'd never done that). The new method (once all of Moodle moves to it) will allow admins to customise the navigation to their own needs.
That makes sense probably in many cases, but still it imposes a module-based perspective on things and it is precisely this reason I am concerned about it causing confusion. The thing is, I am using certain modules for more than one purpose-book for example, I am using for something that resembles a book. But I'm also using it for something I am calling a "gallery" which consists of images and text. It reads a bit strange to have this crumb called "book" at the top of the page in that case.
On the other hand, I am probably going to be using different modules for what in the students' textbook is treated as the same thing. The quiz has some capabilities that would be the best for rendering the exercises in certain chapters, whereas assignment or some other module might be the best choice for other exercises. The fact is, I won't be using the quiz as a quiz per se, simply as an easy way to see if the students have gotten the correct answers or not so as to not have to manually grade 70 short answer items that all have only one or two correct answers. So I don't want the students to see different names for what is to them the same thing, and certainly I don't want them to be confused by thinking they are taking a quiz, when in reality they aren't.
This leads me to two questions, as I would like to be able to hack a couple things:
1-You said breadcrumbs are controlled on each page at the moment-so I presume this means there is no easy hack to get rid of the extra step currently?
2-What controls the appearance on mouse-over of the name of the type of module when in course view? I think I'd like to get rid of it, or even better, replace it with the description of the activity or resource that I entered.
2) It's the name of the activity module. Changing it to use summaries is an interesting idea but difficult to implement cleanly (and fast).
This I think goes to the root of the problem, and it is certainly not a problem unique to Moodle: students in an online history class want to learn about history, not the structure of the LMS, and the teacher in an online history class wants to teach about history, not the structure of the LMS.
While it's become apparent in my experience teaching Moodle and other educational software, that top menu breadcrumb trails are not a humane (Jeff Raskin) solution (most folks don't even notice them) for navigation, I agree that the trail should lead a student back the way they came, not to the overview of all the modules in that class.
Now if the 'trail' was built of big, clearly labeled buttons, and it was on the bottom of each page (where the user's eye naturally falls after reading a page), then I think it would be pretty useful for non-technical folks.
Can you show me one other software package that does this?
> Students in an online history class want to learn about history, not the structure of the LMS
Sorry, I must disagree. There needs to be some visible structure and regularity in the navigation interface otherwise it becomes an amorphous, ever-changing and inconsistent mess of pages. If the interface is regular and provide hints then students can pick it up quickly and find things regardless of some Ancient History professor's idea of web design.
Hi Martin, Blackboard 6. Also IME most web pages that use breadcrumbs do this. In the metaphor, how confusing would it be for Hansel and Gretal if the trail they laid down as they went into the forest led back to the bread factory rather than back to their home (or if they had to skip the first half of the trail to get back to the one that would lead them home)?
> Students in an on line history class want to learn about history, not the structure of the LMS
Sorry, I must disagree.
Well, I don't think your statement and my statement are in conflict: the breadcrumbs lead back to the Module list in order to teach about the structure of Moodle, and that is consistent, and yes the LMS should have a consistent design.
However, I think the breadcrumbs being consistently at the bottom of the page (where the user's eye is when they are done with the activity) and lead the student directly back the way they came would both be as consistent as the current and facilitate keeping the student focused on the subject material, while being more humane (more in keeping with how people function).
What I can tell you is just from training teachers to use Moodle and answering student questions about how to get back from a link in Moodle, and having to locate the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page and then having the click the second to the last link in the trail to get back to where they came from is a consistent source of complaint here.
I think we should stop refering to the navigation bar as "breadcrumbs". It clearly never was supposed to indicate the trail the user took to get here. It is supposed to tell the reader where he is and give him a way to navigate. And I think that is much more important. I don't really care about the convoluted way by which I found a page (and as Martin pointed out, my browser actually keeps that information for me), I want to know what the page is and where it is in the scheme of things. So I want to know the course, the type of resource, the name of the resource, and what type of page this is within a resource. The navigation bar "Moodle » Using Moodle » Forums » Course formats » Back button at the bottom please???? » Editing" serves that purpose perfectly. Long live the Moodle navigation bar.
I like to have it at the top because it tells me something about the page before I start reading it. However, I see no reason why it is not also repeated at the bottom.
This causes confusion for new users (for those who find it) who expect it act like a breadcrumb trail, and also causes confusion for folks who don't see it and can't figure out how to get back to where they were* or who don't use it because it confused them before.
Meanwhile, experienced users 'get it' and don't want it changed (exactly why the caps lock key is right where so many folks hit it by accident, and even why we stil have a QWERTY keyboard.
I guess this is the downside of social construction of knowledge.
IMO, this is a similar issue to the placement and action of the "Save this whole quiz" button: once you get used to it, it's second nature, but the number of trouble tickets it generates shows that it is a less than ideal solution.
*The browser back button is also less than ideal to rely on for navigation in an LMS where folks interact with forms.
Speaking as someone typing with a Dvorak keyboard , I really think the breadcrumb trail as you envision it would be far less useful. I can't see it being changed in any radical way soon simply because it would be a lot of effort but this article on breadcrumb trails has some relevant information on the topic if anyone does want to weigh up the merits of changing.
Let's look at the Using Moodle main page. What is the most visible structure you see? It's the topics. Smack dab in the middle of the page and taking up most of its space. Yes they may all be displayed on the same page, but they can actually be collapsed, so you could have a single topic per page. So in a way, the logical step in the breacrumb trail after the course would be the topic.
The current breadcrumb trail is relying on a secondary way of conceiving of the site's structure-namely activities. This structure is relegated to a sideblock, the activities sideblock. And not only is it not the main focus, but it is entirely optional. I can remove the activities sideblock completely from my course (and I am doing that with all of mine), and that conception of site structure disappears completely from my main course page.
Now, there is absolutely nothing on my course page suggesting the current breadcrumb structure even exists. So if the activity block were removed from the course page, in the below example, the only way one could reach the "forums" step in the breadcrumb trail is from the direction of "course formats," there is no way that one can get to the "forums" from "Using Moodle."
Moodle » Using Moodle » Forums » Course formats » Back button at the bottom please???? » Editing
Looking at it that way, it is a bug. Thus if you want to do away with the activities block altogether in your course, you can only do so by introducing a bug into your course.
I don't care much whether one calls the Moodle bar "navigation" or "breadcrumbs", but there is one point I do care about, and that is the name of a resource being displayed as a hyperlink at the end of the navigation line where it should be displayed as plain text.
What I mean is that the navigation line I have at the top of the screen right now looks like this: "Moodle » Using Moodle » Forums » Course formats » Back button at the bottom please???? » Editing" where Editing is where I am (and what I am doing) and thus correctly displayed as plain text.
Similarly, in one of my Moodle courses, in the Activities block, if I click on Resources, I can see the navigation line: "CURSUS >> English for Art >> Resources" which is correct, as I am now viewing a list of the Resources available in my course.
On the other hand, if I click on the name of one of those resources in the list, e.g. Text_1, then the page Text_1 is displayed. I always choose Put resource in a frame to keep site navigation visible
But then the navigation bar is displayed thus:
"CURSUS >> English for Art >> Resources >> Text 1" which means that Text 1, is a hyperlink, so that the very page I am reading is considered as somewhere I can navigate to... I fail to see the logic behind this behaviour, which I call a plain bug but which Martin calls a "feature" (see http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=9690#53095). What is worse is that should a student inadvertently click on that Text 1 link, the Text 1 page is opened in a new window, thus loosing the Moodle site navigation and defeating the very reason why I selected that option in the first place !
Of course, this is a constructivist learning environment, and if someone thinks there is a better definition for breadcrumbs in the Moodle environment, please post it and I will be happy to edit my entry.
I'd love to see some links to actual web sites that similarly replicate the browser functions, I don't think I've ever seen a site that does it!
That's the only site I've even seen that actually tracks where you have visited. Seemed like geeky showing off to me.
I also second the conclusion found in this article as long as you bear in mind that it is mostly talking specifically about public websites, with transitory visitors, rather than web applications like Moodle so all it's conclusions need to be shifted slightly.
- breadcrumb trails (in the Moodle sense) are highly efficient
- 'normal' people generally don't use them, unless 'trained' ('training' in this context meaning pretty much anything beyond simply finding a site you've never seen before through Google)
"Specifically, they argue that training makes sense in Intranet environments, where the ROI for the training would be more than offset by increased productivity."
Now if the "breadcrumbs"/navigation bar were an adjunct to an easy to 'get' persistent site navigation, that would be less of a problem, but it's the only way Moodle provides for all users to get from activities and back, not just experts.
It's not dynamic, eg if the student breaks out of site navigation, it doesn't record that, but it does lead from site page to course page to activity and back again, which is what I was trying to get at, sorry if I was unclear.
It seems W was more clear (thanks W) and now Moodle will do the same thing (what was breaking it before was the link to the resources being thrown in the middle of the trail) so all is well.
However, I would still like to see it duplicated at the bottom of the page.
BB 6 'breadcrumbs' -->
The "Resources" link is not going away anytime soon, though (unless you hack your own copy). What made you think that?
This extra link has now been removed completely in Moodle 1.5. I used to find it useful as a method of getting to the resource file directly
Doh! I see it was a different cause of confusion that got fixed (to me the activities link is also an "extra link" as it suddenly shows up between where the student came from and where the student went to).
I vote with W's categorization of this as a bug rather than a feature.
Since we changed the name of the course in the navigation bar in a static HOME label and echo the >> .. >> trail, we like the way the navigation bar is now.
I support Martin in his design idea that if a student visits a resource, Moodle is allowed to say "He, look a student that opens a resource, lets tell him that there are more resources in this course by giving him a little hint: (more) RESOURCES. "
The only point that stays unsolved is the BB-solution-type here that it shows only "technical look-a-likes" and not "educational related *) sources" in the course.
*) Educational related asks for a kind of mindmap interface where teachers - and students?? - can draw the logical structure and neigbourhood of ALL the subject-related course resources (weblinks, files, html-pages, subfolders..) AND related course activities in this course..
.. Especially needed if you are discovering a course, and not only have to / want to follow the breadcrumbs of Hansen lineair like the pages of a good book.
Not only that, but a well designed site, of any kind, should be so easy to use that it doesn't matter what an activity is called, it just works intuitively.
I wonder what this thread might have looked like if this issue had been given to a "Usability Group" to look at and discuss? Then, interact with the community with some suggestions or "researched" thoughts for more comment and maybe even a community vote??
The discussion would have been open just like discussion is in the "Developer's Forum" and possibly more constructionist in nature. That is, watching those with usability knowledge interact and also respond to other Moodlers questions might have caused some to build knowledge on the issue in a more concentrated fashion. Hopefully that knowledge would prove useful in future Moodles.
What if the request in the "Subject" area had been perceived by most as a "feature" request and not a "usability issue"? Then, all of this interaction would not have come about.
Just wondering. Not bored really. Enjoying the discussion.
My usability research suggest you shouldn't use blue underlined words in web text unless you are playing a pratical joke
Just wanted you to know, I have just about all of your references bookmarked. I learn a lot from your posts. Just a bit difficult to keep up with the reading. So much to see and understand.
Are you going to be part of the reading group that Don Hinkelman is pulling together?
Book Study on "Learning Design"
When I first started exploring moodle courses, I was frustrated that I had to scroll up to the top of the page to get to the next lesson/page/whatever. That is counterintuitive and hard on a learner who is not well versed in moodle. In fact, it's hard on anyone who is wanting Content not program.
My proposed solutions:
1. Frame the top section so the breadcrumbs and "jump to" sections are always visible.
2. For sections that do not have a built in navigation button, put the jump to at the top and bottom.
For what it's worth,
You can see it at work here learn.humboldt.edu, login as guest and check out one of the intro courses. You can get it in CVS/contrib.
Once the new themes come out in 1.5, we plan to update with with roll-over color changes and other neat stuff.
While in the same section "Lesson Reloaded," the book module provides two excellent cues: the TOC on the left, and the arrows on the right at the top and bottom.
I work with 2,500 overworked hospice employees. If they feel the slightest frustration with an e-learning event, like not being able to tell where to go next, they will not get as much from the event.
I would like a standardized visual cue on every page that does not contain a question to send the learner to the next page. The arrows in the book module are exactly what I am looking for. There just not ubiquitous!
Thanks for listening to my rant.
Putting them at the bottom will require individual changes to every page so it's not going to happen soon. It will have to wait for Jon's new Pages architecture I alluded to earlier to mature in a future version of Moodle.
In the meantime there is the course link in the footer which will allow your users to get to any page within the course in two clicks. Make it bigger if you like, that's a choice you can make in your theme.
I'm so glad we are finally back to the original point of this thread!
Also instead of coursename I would like to change it to say something like 'Click here to return to the [coursename] homepage' or similar
I moved the homelink above the login details, hard coded the 'Return to the ' ' homepage' and made the font bigger in the style. I think this is now much clearer. Thanks for that
A couple of minor problems if anyone has any thoughts:
- On the login and home page it has "Return to the" is hard coded in the bottom of the page but no links (obviously because there is nowhere to go!).
- On the course page it has "Return to the home homepage'. I was expecting it to use the site short name. Can I change this somewhere?
- It doesn't look much different at all in win firefox
In the mock up I have provided some information as to where the user will be going if they click on the buttons. I couldn't work out how to indictate the type of resource / activity in the buttons without them becoming to long. Also, they will look unbalanced if one title is short and the other is long but I am just offering it up as food for thought.
Also, the 'jump to ...' description doesn't really do it for me but again I couldn't come up with much better
Nice idea, must be easy to implement.
It makes Moodle more and more looking like a book, a good book
I only wonder: If you are in a section on top level of the activities (no intend) should you echo the names of the next top level - when you press L & R - or follow the activity list, going to the next in the list even if it is an activity/resource with an intend?
The choice to have it (and the layout) is left with the theme in footer.html, and it works exactly like header.html.
The new Pages stuff still needs to be done, but this will at least solve this issue in the meantime.
I also like the tabs creeping into 1.5.
Looks very nice, though the jump to menu and the logged in as info move around depending on where you are in the site. Maybe the logged in username should always be at the bottom?
What about the other suggestion (possibly made by you, I can't remember) to highlight the existing 'back to front page' link, perhaps changing the text to 'Return to [course or moodle shortname] main page' or similar and moving it above the new nav-bar. Is that going to be part of the standard theme in 1.5? Because I thought that was a good idea too.
Since we have the whole navigation path there now do we even need the extra link to the course page now? It seems completely redundant.
I gather this will be possible with the new $button function & a modified theme?
At CSU Humboldt, most Moodle users will be new to Moodle and infrequent (weekly rather than daily) users for the next few years, keeping the navigation as simple (the bare minimum nec. to get around) and obvious (big fat buttons) as possible seems to the the best way to make it easier for them.
Don't use $button (that's something else) ... just style the "homelink" class to make it big etc.
I must say the double navigation bar looks positively dorky on shorter pages.
|TSICOURSES » Login to the site|
When I first log in to the site the button which is showing in blue is not immeadiately visible, I have to click on a course or the login buttom again before this button shows up.
This is a bit frustrating as it is an extra 2 clicks i have to go through to teh admin functions. Is there any chance that when loging in as an admin the admin functions can be shown immeadiately.