I developed the Moodle Inline Trainer as part of my senior honors thesis at Brandeis University. The plugin sits at the edge of the Moodle interface and provides users a list of actions. If a user requires help completing an action, they may open it from the trainer to see a step-by-step list of instructions to complete said action. The trainer automatically crosses off steps as they are completed, and undoes the crossing off if a user undoes a step.
The purpose of the trainer is to take advantage of natural interruptions that occur during the learning process. By “watching” the user as the complete tasks and providing immediate feedback, these interruptions are minimized. The trainer allows the user to gain understandings or correct misunderstandings and quickly get back to the task at hand.
To learn more about the trainer, the development process, or the research study, see the full paper.
Technology has become an essential part of the education process. Teachers are asked to implement software and apps into their lessons. Teachers rarely have enough time, relevant training, or support to sufficiently accomplish this. Traditional training methods such as manuals or workshops take time away from teachers’ other responsibilities and often present information outside of the context in which the technology will be used. Inline training offers a way to seamlessly incorporate training into users’ normal workflow. An inline trainer takes advantage of natural interruptions as a user navigates a particular software and uses these interruptions as teachable moments. This reduces the amount of time dedicated to training, personalizes help to each individual user, and presents new knowledge in the context in which it will be used. In this study, an inline trainer was designed to help instructors learn to use Moodle, an open-source learning management system. The design was tested in an experiment consisting of ten subjects who were given a list of tasks to perform on Moodle and access to the trainer. Through observing and interviewing subjects, a model was created to represent users’ workflows while completing tasks. This model was used to categorize three styles of use of the inline trainer: 1) trainer as backup; 2) trainer as guide; and 3) trainer as validator. Lists of the most important interface items, common uses of the trainer, and requested improvements were also extracted from the data. Based on these lists, recommendations are made for improvements to the trainer and future research. This project acted as a capstone for my Brandeis undergraduate experience because it gave me an opportunity to combine and use much of what I have learned in my computer science and education coursework to create a real tool to help teachers learn to use technology.
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