Providing context using Custom Text in UPK 3.5

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The Start Frame

You may recall that the very first Frame in a Topic is the Start Frame. This is sometimes referred to as the Introduction frame, which is largely a throwback to OnDemand, as we shall see shortly. As this Frame is the first thing that a trainee will see when they carry out a Topic, coupled with the fact that this Frame is a “non-action” Frame, in that the user does not need to actively do anything (other than pressing Enter to continue), it is a good place to provide some additional information to the trainee.

The first thing that you should explain in the Introduction frame is exactly what the trainee will be learning in the exercise. Certainly the title of the Topic should give them a clue, but this is not really detailed enough. A good source of information for this is the learning objectives of the course for which this exercise has been built, or the competencies, depending on your curriculum development process. For our sample exercise, we could use the bubble shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

This is a good start, but we can do more.

It is always useful, with training exercises, to use realistic business scenarios to explain what the trainee is doing, to put the keystrokes and mouse-clicks into a business context. Trainees are much more likely to remember information to which they can relate. Consider telling a story and walking the trainees through that story as they carry out the exercise. Although it is a fairly spurious example, we will continue with our sample exercise. Here, we could use the bubble shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

So now the trainee has a good idea of what they will learn, and they have an example that they can relate to. The text is also directed at the trainee, so the trainee will feel actively involved.

There is another strong argument for including a scenario in the form shown above. Consider the case where you are providing training for users in multiple locations (possibly countries) or departments, each of which has its own set of customers, products, and vendors. Users will always want to see exercises using their data: orders for their products, placed at their location, and so on. To keep everyone happy, you would need to develop a separate, customized Topic for each location or user group. If the basic process (and, most importantly for us, the Actions in the recording) is the same in each case, this is clearly inefficient. However, if you create a scenario, and say something like “You are a Customer Service Representative in the Tampa Service Center. Customer SunCo has phoned through an order for 1,000 gallons of regular gasoline. You need to record this order in the system so that it can be fulfilled by Fuel Services.” then trainees who are not at the Tampa Service Center will at least understand that this is role play. It is make believe, and they shouldn’t be concerned that they don’t see products that they don’t supply at their own location. So set the scene with a scenario in the Introduction pane, and then build on this throughout the exercise.

Introduction Text: Version differences

At this point, it is worth highlighting some key differences between the way the Introduction pane was handled prior to UPK 3.5, and the way that the Introduction pane is used in UPK 3.5.

If you open an Outline Element in the Outline Editor, and select a Topic in the navigation tree, you will see that the lower-right portion of the screen is labeled Introduction, as shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

The Outline Editor is used to organize content objects into the structure that the trainee will see. However, if we look at the published version of the Outline above, we will see the following:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Where has the Introduction Frame gone? Put simply. UPK 3.5 does not display the Introduction Frame in the Player any more. Users of UPK 2.x or OnDemand 9.x will recall that the Introduction Frame certainly used to be displayed, as shown in the following screenshot, which is taken from OnDemand 9.1.5:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Quite why Oracle decided to change the way the Introduction pane is displayed (or not) in version 3.5 is a mystery (maybe they felt that with all that screen space required for the new Oracle branding, there just wasn’t the space left to include the Introduction any more). However, it does have some important implications on the way that we are planning on using it.

This is because the effect of a publishing option associated with the Introduction pane has changed significantly. In the Publishing Wizard, the options for the Player package include an option to Show introduction text. In OnDemand version 9.1, this option determined whether the Introduction text appeared in the Outline as well as on the first Frame of the Player. However, in UPK 3.5, the Introduction text is never displayed in the Outline and the Show introduction text determines whether the Introduction text appears in the Player at all (effectively, it controls whether the Start Frame is included in the Player or not.

Version Difference

The Content Development manual for OnDemand 9.1.5 describes the Show introduction text option as working the way described for UPK 3.5. It doesn’t work that way; it works the way described for OnDemand 9.1, above. This is clearly a rare case of the documentation being updated before the software.

For our purposes, therefore, we need to make sure that the Show introduction text option is always selected when we publish. This option can be found in the Player category of your Options, as shown in the next screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Action Frames

It is possible to add Custom Text to the Topic’s Bubbles, either in addition to, or instead of, the Template Text. Using the Template Text has several significant advantages, especially when localizing your content or providing sound. However, the Template Text will only ever be able to describe the mechanics of what the user is doing, it cannot provide business context. You should always try to teach more than just key-strokes and mouse-clicks. Specifically, you should always take the opportunity to add business context yourself, through the liberal use of Custom Text in Action Frames.

Consider the following example that uses solely the default template texts:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Certainly the trainee can carry out the required action and work their way through the exercise, but are they really learning anything? What is the Ext.Ref field, and what is the significance of the value ZBW002342? Should they always enter this value, or are other values possible? Here, we should help the trainee out and teach them something by providing some more information through the use of Custom Text. A better version is shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Now the trainee knows exactly what they are entering in the exercise, and understands the business context so they can perform the action correctly when they are doing their actual job.

Note that here, we have retained the Template Text (we did not insert the Template Text as Custom Text) which will aid in the translation (although the custom text will still need to be manually translated). We simply added the first paragraph that you see in the Bubble above as Custom Text, and positioned it before the Template Text (the Show custom text first button (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5) is selected by default; you can deselect this if required, to have the Template Text displayed first, but for our purposes we want the Custom Text first).

 

UPK will run the Template Text in the next line immediately after the Custom Text, so you need to insert an extra line break at the end of the Custom Text if you want the two texts to appear as separate paragraphs.

In this example, note that we have continued the scenario that we described in the Introduction pane through into this exercise, by mentioning the customer’s name. Again, it is always useful to use a scenario so that the trainee can better relate the exercise to their actual jobs. Note that the text For this exercise…is ZBW002342 will need to be tagged to appear only in See It! and Try It! modes.

UPK will run the Template Text in the next line immediately after the Custom Text, so you need to insert an extra line break at the end of the Custom Text if you want the two texts to appear as separate paragraphs.

In this example, note that we have continued the scenario that we described in the Introduction pane through into this exercise, by mentioning the customer’s name. Again, it is always useful to use a scenario so that the trainee can better relate the exercise to their actual jobs. Note that the text For this exercise…is ZBW002342 will need to be tagged to appear only in See It! and Try It! modes.

Whenever practical, you should try to provide some more information, whether this is business context, or a continuation of the scenario you are using, even if this is on every Frame. If you intend for your simulations being used outside of a classroom environment, then you should consider providing exactly the same level of information as the instructor would provide in a classroom. Think about what you would say to the trainee, what additional information or guidance you would give them if you sat next to them, talking them through the simulation, and then add that information into the Bubbles as Custom Text. Remember: training is the effective transfer of knowledge, and if that knowledge is incomplete, then the trainees have not been adequately trained.

The End Frame

The End Frame is always displayed as the final Frame in the simulation. There is no End Frame equivalent of the Show introduction text option to avoid having this Frame displayed. This is a good thing, as it means that we can use this Frame to provide some final information to the user. This should be seen as a companion to the Start Frame, and should confirm the information presented in the Start Frame.

In the Start Frame above, we told the trainee what they would learn. In the End Frame, we should confirm that they have learned this. (This much is standard training theory.) If you have described a scenario in the Start Frame, and followed this through the Action Frames, then you should make reference to this, as well. Suitable End Frame text for our ongoing exercise on SAP user options could be:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Although the scenario information is again fairly spurious in this example, it does at least give you an idea of the kind of information that can usefully be included in the End Frame. Again, this information should be tagged for See It! and Try It! modes only.

Note that in this example we have also included a message of You have now completed this exercise. This is a nice courtesy, and confirms to the trainee that they have reached the end of the simulation.

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