Moodle User Tours: Helping Users Navigate Through the LMS

By July 22, 2019 No Comments

What are User Tours? 

In order to help learners utilize the course interface, Moodle user tours allow admins to take their learners through a step-by-step walkthrough of how to navigate and use the features within the platform.

Introduced first as a Plugin developed by Dublin City University, and later incorporated into core for both Moodle and Totara, User Tours open up interesting options for just-in-time training for LMS users. Most commonly used to introduce new users to the platform upon their initial login or after upgrades or changes, these tours step users through any number of highlighted areas allowing users to progress through by clicking next on the tour or by clicking selected targets on the screen.  

You may not know them by name, but most of us are already familiar with digital adoption platforms such as Pendo, Iridize, WalkMe, and WhatFix. These tools automate the product adoption lifecycle of a software application user. Acting as a Performance Support platform, which typically leads application users through a workflow, digital adoption platforms do this in real time within the application at the time of use.  

A Good Guide Map for Your Moodle User Tour

Just with a tour of any other type, the most effective paths are typically those that are well marked. The idea of a digital adoption platform is to provide good waymarkers so users are exposed to the technology and understand how to get back later.  

In this case, some of the obvious paths for all users will be the front page and user dashboards in Moodle. Some buttons and menu options are not obvious to all users so pointing out how to navigate the site, what is contained in overview blocks, how to get to courses, and where to go to view their profile and adjust personal settings are key to starting your users down a common path.

You may also find that category tours are helpful particularly in self-enrollment situations to highlight a set of courses, point learners to a set or pathway of learning, and be able to target different audiences or roles with this information.  

Course tours are where you can really begin to target content creators, trainers and teachers to showcase theme and course settings, introduce customizations and new features, and outline expectations. By simply targeting the student or learner role instead, a separate tour of the same course could introduce the course and/or teacher, outline expectations and course content, demonstrate how the course is constructed, and show locations for students to inquire or get help.

Keep in mind that the user tour functionality is not limited to these locations. Consider a gradebook tour to help a teacher understand how to setup the gradebook and add weights to categories, or one focused on the learner to explain how the grade is calculated to reach their total.  

Other areas to consider adding tours might be settings screens, reports, and other areas where functionality or recent improvements might not be obvious.

Here are a few examples of Moodle user tours…

The tour above displays a welcome message centered on the page the first time a user logs into the site. It helps them set expectations about what they can do and where to find key navigation items.

The tour step shown above highlights a significant addition of the recently accessed courses block. 

Taking the First Steps 

The first step to implementing a successful user tour is to make a game plan. Key steps to bring a user tour to life usually include:  

  1. Consider where the tour will appear and who the audience will be. Easily filter tours to display based on a user’s role, the course or category, and even the theme and course format.  
  2. Go back to basics and write the script or outline for the steps. What do you want the user to know and where should the step be located or point to? This will help you focus your content and save time before you get into the interface to create targets.  
  3. Create the tour. Usually this is the fun part – bringing your idea to life! You will need access to the tool through the Admin interface, and it can be found by going to: Appearance > User Tours. If you have any level of site administration access but are not seeing the option, you may need to ask for permissions to “Create, edit and remove user tours.”  
  4. Launch the tour and go check that it works as expected. 

Staying the course 

As with everything, after you have a good plan, stay the course and see it through. A basic tour is a good starting point, but this digital adoption functionality lends itself to so much more.  

Initial tours for the front page and dashboard typically live in a relatively fixed locations for everyone and while they will serve to get users oriented to the site, to truly take hold of the digital adoption functionality, consider other key areas across the site. When setting up the tour, you enter a URL that will trigger the start. Use wildcards in these URLs to set a path value, and that combined with the application’s consistent use of durable URLs and the ability to filter tours based on a user’s role make it possible to produce targeted tours across the entire application.   

Beyond location within the site, remember too that you control the location of the tour steps on the screen. If you are not comfortable with CSS, remember that the browser inspector is your friend. Look for specific .class and #id tags you can reference when adding your steps. And while you can and will most likely want to get fancy with pointers and highlighting specific areas, sometimes using an entire block or centering the step to the page is a good option.  

For example, the illustration above highlights a location on the page. It shows that in the inspector this location is id=”section-1” so the target in your tour would be for #section-1 since ids are indicated with a hashtag in the CSS.  

Additionally, consider incorporating video or adding images to the tour content to further illustrate or explain concepts you are targeting. (However, remember to locate these files in a public location so permissions do not get in the way of loading for all users). External applications such as imgbb for images and YouTube for video are easy places to locate these files that provide urls and even the html needed to embed these in the tour content.   

Note the HTML code in the bottom right-hand corner of the image above.  When added to the content of the tour it will save as an image. In this case, the image reiterates the information that the tour is presenting about the Dashboard. It simply helps to add a little bit of spice to the user tour overall.  

As you can see, user tours are an excellent way to highlight new features in Moodle. They help lead users toward understanding and ultimately adopting the functionality as part of their workflow when using the platform. User tours do a great job of making Moodle’s already easy-to-use interface even easier to navigate by pointing out exactly what the learner should be aware of!

Interested in learning more about Moodle user tours?

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By July 22, 2019