Maximizing User Tours
Written by: Rich Lewis, Training Specialist
The Smithsonian Institution (19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and a zoo) has holdings of over 154 million items. If you spent just 15 seconds observing each item, it would take over 73 years to see the whole collection! That clearly isn’t feasible, and simply being presented with that number of options could be enough to sour one on the idea of going at all.
Now the analogy may be a bit extreme, but a similar sensation can wash over users new to your learning platform. Every system is different but let’s face it – there can be a lot of options (buttons, links, switches, etc.) available to a user when they enter the various pages within your LMS. The last thing you want is for users to turn away in frustration!
So, what’s the solution? In both cases, having a personal guide that describes where you are and what you’re viewing can go a long way in giving you the “lay of the land” and guidance on how to accomplish the tasks you want (or need) to complete. In the case of the Smithsonian, that guide may be Pepper the Robot, but for your LMS, the answer is a User Tour.
User Tours provide a fantastic way of acclimating users to the various areas of your LMS. They’ve been around for several versions of our supported LMS platforms (core Moodle™ 3.2+ and core Totara Learn 10+), so hopefully you’ve had a chance to try them out. But if you aren’t familiar, a User Tour is applied to a specific page or page type in the LMS, and will launch the first time a user encounters that page or page type.
When launched, a User Tour presents a series of dialog “steps” that provide an overview of the page being viewed. The real magic in a User Tour is that each step can be positioned to “point” to a different element of the page that is being described, which really makes it a dynamic visual guide to a page. If you’re interested in learning more about how to build User Tours, you can use your Learning Spaces account to access our User Tour training modules and view the webinar recording of Let Me Show You: User Tours.
Now that you have the resources to begin creating and using User Tours, we’d like to share some tips to help maximize their value:
- Did you know that Remote Learner’s Personalization filter can be used in User Tours? Having a user tour step refer to a viewer by name, or refer to the course being viewed, or refer to the instructor of the course all provides a user the sense that they have a personal guide walking them through the page they’re viewing.
- While the editor for a tour step offers a plain text field, dynamic and visually appealing tour steps can still be created! It just requires the use of some basic HTML formatting tags and leveraging the LMS’s built-in capability to interpret Font Awesome tags to add some visual appeal. Also, if you have a separate video or image server, it’s easy to embed images, audio, or video within a tour step.
- Instructors are users too! Consider using User Tours to help explain the settings available when creating the various activities and resources available within the LMS. Each of those activity/resource types will have a unique URL format for their creation page. For example, to have a tour appear when an instructor first attempts to create an Assignment activity, configure the tour to launch on the URL “%add=assign%”.
- User Tours don’t only apply to brand new users. If you implement a theme change or new features within your LMS, User Tours are a great way to communicate those changes or updates to your users. Remember, you can reset a tour so that it will relaunch for all users the next time they visit the impacted page.
- Finally, don’t reinvent the wheel! Did you know that there is a User Tours Repository available in Learning Spaces? It contains several pre-constructed User Tours that are easily downloaded and then imported to your LMS. These tours are generally suitable for use as-is, but more importantly they can provide a great starting point so that with just a little customization you can provide users an experience that is specific to your LMS.
User Tours are a great addition to your toolkit of resources. We hope some of the ideas we’ve shared here help you maximize your use of User Tours. Naturally, we here at Remote Learner are also on hand if you would like additional guidance or consultation on how best to use User Tours to meet your specific goals. Simply reach out to your Account Manager for more information!