notes from the field - Mongolia
mikus at bga.com
Mon Oct 6 16:17:18 EDT 2008
Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions
A feeling I have had all along is that it is not easy for a user to
develop a sense of "how to use my machine effectively". For
instance, the wiki seems to have so much information that the
visitor can get overwhelmed.
I've tried to help by putting some pieces of advice into the Sugar
FLOSSmanual - but I'm not sure of how to "open the eyes" of new
users to the possibilities of "what I could use this tool for".
> Basically - The journal is really hard for people/ kids to use over
> a longer period of time. Kids and teachers can't find things that they
> did unless it was done within the last 30 minutes.
A severely underappreciated capability is Journal 'Search'. At
least with 8.2, the user can add information to the Journal entries
to help find them later:
- First off, every Activity has a 'Name Field' in its top menu.
When running any Activity, the user should enter there a short
"Title" to identify the resulting Journal entry from all others.
- Then, upon leaving that Activity, the user should "reflect" on
what was done, and "update" the corresponding Journal entry to make
it easier to find later. This is particularly desirable if the
"Title" is not meaningful enough by itself for later locating what
the user is looking for:
- the 'Entry Name' can be edited (if not adequately identified
earlier) to distinguish this Journal entry.
- the 'Description Field' in the 'Detail View' for the entry
can be used for a concise description of what was done, to
later remind the user of "what this entry is about".
- the 'Tag Field' in the 'Detail View' for the entry can be
used to enter multiple "Subject Headings" to help find this
entry later. For example, if the entry is about
Triceratops, enter 'Dinosaurs' as a "more general subject"
to find this Journal entry by.
The 'Search Box' in the Journal top menu will "match" the keywords
the user enters there against the content of these three fields. By
learning what to enter into these fields, the user can find in the
Journal what he is looking for.
> Can't save files - this should probably be the first item on my list.
Here we come against "initial expectations".
The whole concept of Sugar is that the user doesn't need to
explicitly "save files". They are automatically kept in the Sugar
datastore, and are accessed through the Journal interface. [In
other words: Don't use the traditional hierarchy of directories to
locate the saved file -- instead do "characterize" the object with a
description, and use an "intelligent search" to locate it.]
If the complaint is that users "can't retrieve" files using
traditional cyberspace procedures - then learning how to make use of
the 'Search Box' in Journal should help. [Admittedly, expanded
support for "metadata searching" by the Journal interface has been
deferred to a future implementation.]
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