[Sugar-devel] [DESIGN] 'Resume' vs 'Start a new' Activity

Simon Schampijer simon at schampijer.de
Thu Jan 7 03:09:58 EST 2010


I have observed certain difficulties with the 'resume' and 'start a new' 
activity concept. At the moment we have the following situation:

*** Current Situation:
In the Home View you can resume an activity and start a new one. The 
option to start a new activity is in the palette of the activity icon. A 
list of last entries from this activity type is present in the palette 
as well. When you click on the icon with the left mouse button, the last 
activity is resumed by default. Clicking with the right mouse button on 
the icon does reveal the activity palette. The activity is revealed 
after a delay when hovering over the icon, too. Since version 0.86 when 
you hold the alt-key pressed and click on the activity icon you can 
start a new activity. This is visually guided by the uncolored activity 

In the Journal you can resume activities. There is no option to start a 
new activity from within the Journal.

*** Background:
I teach a Sugar class of 15 students (5th and 6th grade) in a German 
primary school [1]. The classes are on a weekly one hour basis. They had 
10-15 hours of Sugar by now. We use Sugar 0.84 on Fedora 11. I explained 
the concept of the Journal, repeated several times how to start a new 
activity and how to resume one. I explained them that revealing of the 
palette is quicker when using the right mouse button.

*** Disclaimer:
The information below is not meant to be hard data. There are 
differences in backgrounds (cultural etc), ages and quite importantly: a 
difference between a first time user, a regular user and a daily user. 
Some might as well question if I have chosen the right methodical way to 
explain things, and be sure sometimes I do question myself, however the 
data gathered might be a good basis for discussing this issue and maybe 
others will provide some data, too.

*** Observations:
Most of the kids click on the activity icon when they want to start a 
new activity. Since there is a delay to reveal the palette, the learner 
does not see the other information in the palette.

When they resume a previous activity, and they wanted to start a new 
one, I have seen learners erasing the previous content and keep on 
working in that activity.

Nearly all the kids do not use the right click to reveal the palette. 
They wait for it to appear.

*** Survey:
Last class I asked the learners in a small survey the following questions:

A: How do you do a new drawing in TurtleArt?
Some: Nothing, or did misunderstood the question.
Some: I click on TurtleArt.
One said: One clicks with the right mouse on TurtleArt and clicks with 
the left one on New.
One said: Go on TurtleArt, wait, click New.

A: How do you edit a previous drawing in TurtleArt?
Many: Go to the Journal and resume there.
One: Go to Journal or right click and choose the one one want to resume.
One: Go on TurtleArt and choose the name one wants to resume.
Some: Nothing / did not understand the question

A: Is there a difference between the right mouse click and the left 
mouse click?
One: it is quicker to use the right mouse button.
Some: you get a new field/list.
Many: Nothing / did not understand the question

*** Comments:
The concept of using the Journal to resume a previous activity does work 
very well for the kids. With adding the list of previous activities to 
the activity palette in the home view we added that concept to the home 
view. The issue is, it is a secondary option. There is only one way in 
Sugar to start a new activity - to work from scratch. And this is a 
secondary option.

For me it would be worth trying to test going back to create a new one 
by default, as I think this is what my learners somehow expected.

Small additions to the activity palette could be helpful, too. Adding 
the journal date field to the entries. And having headers like in [2], 
though I think there was a technical issue with this.

Another improvement could be to cut the delay, so the secondary options 
are more prominent. Or, the left mouse click would reveal the palette 
and the learner then needs to decide what option to choose. This would 
clash with the rest of the UI I guess.

I remember we had some design mockups quite some time ago, where a 
certain amount of Journal entries where displayed in the home view in a 
horizontal time line. Maybe this would help to make the Journal more 
accessible from there.

Congrats, if you made it reading that far. Comments, ideas, mockups, 
plans for more data I should provide etc welcome.


[1] at the moment only in German: http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Planetarium
[2] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Design_Team/Designs/Activity_Management#6

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