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Note vs Text, nice idea but too confusing for users.
25 July 2015, 4:45
I am working in our dev installation of 15.04 at PSU. I'm so torn on this new version because there are some features I think are big improvements, but a couple that make things way too confusing for the user. My biggest concern is the renaming of the NOTE block and creation of a TEXT block. In my opinion, the placement of these blocks is poor. My users are not going to understand the difference and probably won't really care except that the NOTE block is the only one they need. If I hide the TEXT block, they won't be able to find the NOTE block, especially because it is renamed. I think the two should be one block, with an option to make it a NOTE or TEXT within the block. This feature along with the redundancy of a Feedback and Annotation block (again - couldn't this be one block with the option for annotation?) gives me great pause about pushing this version into prod.
I don't mean this to be harsh, but I'm feeling more often that Mahara suffers from trying to fit too many options into a box that won't budge. It is frustrating as the administrator to have to find workarounds to make it work for our institution without confusing the user - as is the most common complaint from them. Mahara is great for people who understand html, and can figure out how to manipulate things for their purpose, but it is hard to use for those users who just need something simple - yet powerful.
29 July 2015, 14:27
Thank you for your feedback. We actually separated out "Text" from "Notes" after feedback from users that notes were too complicated and they often only needed "Text" that wouldn't need to be stored like a note, but could just live on a portfolio page and wouldn't need to be accessible anywhere else. We kept the note with its additional functionalities as we wanted to avoid too many options in a block that people overlook / don't read and then complain about not finding what they are looking for because there are too many options in a block.
You can deactivate "Text" and move "Notes" up into the space by making a code change. A developer would know what to do there, but it was made flexible so that basically any blocks can be used in the shortcut menu where we currently have "Image" and "Text" as most used items. And you can also rename the "Note" block if that helps your user. Roger gave a great workshop remotely for Mahara Hui in NZ earlier this year in which he walked attendees through the process of setting up local language strings that wouldn't be overwritten by a Mahara update. You can check out the workshop resources.
"Feedback" and "Annotation", while somewhat related, are very different things structurally and feature wise. Again, you can turn off annotations if you don't need them. Annotations are the first step towards the "SmartEvidence" functionality. Since eventually, when we'll be able to implement more of the evidence maps, annotations will be closely tied to the evidence maps, we can't use the page feedback, but need another block where standards can be used and learners could annotate their choice which then in turn can receive feedback from an assessor and other users. We were hoping to be further along with other work on SmartEvidence, but unfortunately that is not the case at the moment. That's why the annotations are still more of a manual block. Eventually, it will be converted to work with the evidence maps and that's why it needs to be separate from text boxes or feedback.
Please let me know if you want to get together at AAEBL to look at some of these things.