Conference Paper

Supporting Remote Real-Time Expert Help: Opportunities and Challenges for Novice 3D Modelers

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

We investigate how novice 3D modelers can remotely leverage real-time expert help to aid their learning tasks. We first carried out an observational study of remote novice-expert pairs of 3D modelers to understand traditional chat-based assistance in the context of learning 3D modeling. Next, we designed MarmalAid, a web-based 3D modeling tool with a novel real-time, in-context help feature that allows users to embed real-time chat conversations at any location within the 3D geometry of their models. Our user study with 12 novices who used both MarmalAid’s real-time, in-context chat and an external chat tool to seek help, showed that novices found the real-time, in-context chat to be more useful and easier to use, and that experts asked for fewer clarifications, allowing the novices to ask more task-related questions. Our findings suggest to several design opportunities to utilize and extend the real-time, in-context help concept in 3D modeling applications and beyond.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Previous research has made learning this practice more accessible online by facilitating in-situ feedback of designing printable files (i.e. step 1) [20] and by supporting the remote sharing of printer status [48] (i.e. step 3). ...
... Communication may be in-person or remote (e.g. email or web-chat), even situated in 3D printing practices like CAD procedures [5,20]. ...
... With the goal of broadening participation with 3D printing via a single intelligent website, we approached five experienced printing practitioners (3 Male & 2 Female, ages [19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29], most having experience running printing services where they help newcomers at least once a week. ...
... Although there is a growing body of research on the impact of makerspaces and maker technologies on children, there are fewer studies on ways to make these technologies child-friendly, i.e., more approachable and conceptually meaningful for them. Novices who are first-time users of these technologies, be it children or adults, often find them discouraging due to usability and learnability issues [15,32,36,42,50]. This research addresses the gap and focuses on identifying challenges students face when using 3D modeling tools and suggests ways to effectively teach 3D modeling and printing at the middle-school level (age [11][12][13]. ...
... • On-task, Seeking Help: Due to the challenges that come with learning CAD, there is a pattern among novices in seeking help from a more knowledgeable other (AKO), be it their peer, teacher, or another adult [63]. When seeking help, novices tend to struggle with formulating questions, conveying the visual context, and geometry-specific conversations [15]. Observed behaviors for on-task seeking help include students discussing or brainstorming with another person about their 3D model. ...
... These CAD applications could aid designers, inspiring their designs as they create, or by replacing crude work-in-progress designs with polished pre-existing designs, much like how programmers copy and paste code snippets online [44]. Similarly, CAD programs could highlight important term-definitions and common questions associated with the design-in-progress, similar to how mentors have guided newer CAD users in situ through the Mar-malAid system [45]. Remixing designs is already a common practice on Thingiverse [3] [5], and creating systems that can further facilitate the sharing, modification, and combining of open-source models could broaden participation with 3D printing. ...
... Isa [25] automatically detects customer contexts for customer service agents and provide relevant information for the agent to use, therefore being a valuable tool for seasonal workers. For neuroscience labs [26], 3D modelers [27] and bio labs [28], WCAs have been proposed to provide respective just-in-time assistance to tackle work challenges. ...
Conference Paper
Conversational interfaces at the workplace are not a new idea, but it is only the recent technological advancements that turned what was once a vision into near-future reality. Improved reliability and accuracy enable conversational systems to be used in higher stake environments, such as the workplace. In this work, we perform a literature review on concepts proposed to incorporate Conversational Agents (CA) into the workplace. We found 29 workplace CAs designed for workers that contribute to eight different application domains. Based on the studies of these CAs, we compiled a list of aspects to be considered when designing such CAs and identified starting points for further research.
... With the combination of different features, it is easy to plan and compose a complicated 3D scene. Although it is possible to create similar 3D animation effects with existing software, e.g., Autodesk Maya [2], it will be much more time consuming, not to mention that the interface and operations of these professional software are not very user friendly for an unskilled content creator [10]. With our specially designed system, one can create the entire poetry illustration from scratch within 20 minutes, which is important for real-world application in educational settings. ...
Article
An immersive experience brought about by virtual reality can potentially enhance the appreciation of classical Chinese poetry, which is difficult to describe clearly in everyday language or ordinary media. However, making 3-dimensional illustrations for a 360-degree display in virtual reality is usually a labor-intensive and time-consuming procedure and hard to master for non-professional media creators, such as teachers. Motivated by the homology theory of classical Chinese poetry and painting, we propose an image-based approach of building 2.5-dimensional immersive stories to visualize classical Chinese poetry. Specifically, using Chinese shadow play as a metaphor, we have designed and implemented ShadowPlay2.5D , a sketch-based authoring tool to help novices create 360-degree videos of classical Chinese poetry easily. To ensure coverage of the diverse themes in Chinese poetry and preserve the sense of culture, we build a Chinese ink-painting style image repository of essential poetic elements identified via crowdsourcing. To facilitate construction of 2.5-dimensional scenes, we design features that support puppet-like animation, instancing, and camera organization in a 3-dimensional environment. Through two user studies, we show that ShadowPlay2.5D can help novices make a short 360-degree video in about 10--15 minutes, and the 2.5D stylized illustrations created can bring about a better immersive experience for poetry appreciation.
... WYSIWYG), such as investigating how humans can better co-design with machines [23,25], provoke the tension between designer skills and material-fabrication [51]. These tensions can be alleviated through novel CAD applications that support design with remote mentors [12], design with reusable parts [20,44], design with better understanding of static forces [11], design to better adapt everyday objects [10], design with code [59], design with better understanding of uncertainties and errors [24], and design with tangible interactions and augmented reality feedback [41,57,60]. Translating design intent to machine implementation is another topic of interest, such as automatically optimizing printing products' strength [19,48,50], size [28,53], speed [56,62], and wasted material [47,52,53]. ...
Conference Paper
Broader participation in 3D printing may be facilitated through printing services that insulate clients from the costs and detailed technical knowledge necessary to operate and maintain printers. However, newcomers to 3D printing encounter barriers and challenges even before gaining access to printing facilities. This paper explores the challenges and barriers newcomers encounter when identifying printing opportunities and when learning how to specify 3D printing ideas through observations of stakeholders (n=20) in two university 3D printing shops, and through a focused lab study investigating how to introduce newcomers individually to 3D printing (n=21). We adopt Olsons and Olson's framework for remote collaborations, proposed in "Distance Matters", to analyze the sociotechnical requirements for initiating collaborations with 3D printing services. We found that newcomers often require prior guidance towards 3D printing procedures and websites before establishing what to print in collaboration with 3D printing services. Finally, we discuss how future printing processes and computational systems may empower a future where Anyone Can Print.
... These CAD applications could aid designers, inspiring their designs as they create, or by replacing crude work-in-progress designs with polished pre-existing designs, much like how programmers copy and paste code snippets online [44]. Similarly, CAD programs could highlight important term-definitions and common questions associated with the design-in-progress, similar to how mentors have guided newer CAD users in situ through the Mar-malAid system [45]. Remixing designs is already a common practice on Thingiverse [3] [5], and creating systems that can further facilitate the sharing, modification, and combining of open-source models could broaden participation with 3D printing. ...
... While the above approaches appear to be valuable, research in the education community has demonstrated a range of benefits to active cooperative learning approaches, in which learners are able to directly interact with one another [14,15,52] (discussed in detail in the next section). To provide such an active learning experience, some work on software tutorial systems has integrated elements from games [21,57,59]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Step-by-step tutorials have emerged as a key means for learning complex software, but they are typically designed for individuals learning independently. In contrast, cooperative learning, where learners can help each other as they work, is a fundamental pedagogical technique with many established benefits. To extend these benefits to learning 3D-design software, this work investigates the design of remote cooperative software tutorial systems. We first conduct an observational study of pairs of participants working on 3D-design tutorials, which reveals a range of potential benefits, challenges, and strategies for cooperation. Our findings inform the design of TwoTorials, a cooperative step-by-step tutorial system that helps pairs of remote users establish shared 3D context, maintain awareness of each other's activities, and coordinate their efforts. A user study reveals several benefits to this approach, including enhanced cooperation between learners, reduced effort and mental demand, increased awareness of peer activities, and higher subjective engagement with the tutorial.
... In addition to providing youth with opportunities to learn 3D modeling and printing for obstacle course we wanted to study the degree to which using 3D modeling tools over time can enhance youth spatial thinking skills, a linkage identified through prior research [10]. However, prior research has also reported a number of usability and learnability problems when using 3D modeling softwares [1,5]. Learning 3D modeling can be daunting and requires a serious time commitment [7]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We report on the design and implementation of a 3-week long summer academy introducing high school students to 3D modeling and 3D printing experiences. Supporting youth in developing 3D modeling knowledge can enhance their capacity to effectively use an array of emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and digital fabrication. We used tools and practices from both formal and informal education, such as storylining, to inform the design of the curriculum. We collected data through surveys, artifacts, observations, screen recordings, and group videos. Our findings suggest that (1) emphasizing curricular coherence as a design goal and (2) providing youth with multiple avenues for engaging in 3D modeling can help to: spark youth interest in 3D printing/modeling, maintain youth engagement in learning activities over the course of several weeks, and provide youth with opportunities to develop their spatial thinking skills.
... Some are knowledgeable in using 3D modeling software while some are novices or first-time 3D modelers. It becomes a challenge for facilitators to keep them engaged since they are often not able to follow along with the facilitator due to the different learnability and usability challenges they face [5,8]. This often results in youth creating faulty models with various alignment issues and gaps leading to 3D print failures. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Often neglected in traditional education, spatial thinking has played a critical role in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Spatial thinking skills can be enhanced by training, life experience, and practice. One approach to train these skills is through 3D modeling (also known as Computer-Aided Design or CAD). Although 3D modeling tools have shown promising results in training and enhancing spatial thinking skills in undergraduate engineering students when it comes to novices, especially middle and high-school students, they are not sufficient to provide rich 3D experience since the 3D models created in CAD are isolated the actual 3D physical world. Resulting in novice students finding it difficult to create error-free 3D models that would 3D print successfully. This leads to student frustration where students are not motivated to create 3D models themselves; instead, they prefer to download them from online repositories. To address this problem, researchers are focusing on integrating 3D models and displays into the physical world with the help of technologies like Augmented Reality (AR). In this demo, we present an AR application, 3DARVisualizer, that helps us explore the role of AR as a 3D model debugger, including enhancing 3D modeling abilities and spatial thinking skills of middle- and high-school students.
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for Fab Labs and makerspaces where the use of digital fabrication machines and working with physical materials in collaboration with others are at the heart of the activities. We have been actively promoting children’s technology education both by training local teachers and by working with children themselves. The restrictions have resulted in limiting the number of participants or moving to online working, or even closing the workspaces and cancelling the events. To continue our work, we needed to explore new solutions for the situation. We have provided online training for teachers, experimented with working in family groups and fully online, while access to the digital fabrication machines and children’s engagement in online activities were the largest challenges we encountered. We report in this paper our experiences with different solutions as well as challenges we have faced, both as regards technology education of children and collecting research data related to that.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Users are rapidly turning to social media to request and receive customer service; however, a majority of these requests were not addressed timely or even not addressed at all. To overcome the problem, we create a new conversational system to automatically generate responses for users requests on social media. Our system is integrated with state-of-the-art deep learning techniques and is trained by nearly 1M Twitter conversations between users and agents from over 60 brands. The evaluation reveals that over 40% of the requests are emotional, and the system is about as good as human agents in showing empathy to help users cope with emotional situations. Results also show our system outperforms information retrieval system based on both human judgments and an automatic evaluation metric.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Tutorials are critical to the success and vitality of DIY practices. In this paper, we elevate the importance of tutorial authorship as one way to maintain and improve the quality of tutorials in DIY. We discuss the role interaction designers can play as hybrid designers, mediating between author and audience to contribute to the improvement of practices of tutorial authorship in DIY. We examine the quality of tutorials through the building and analysis of ten DIY projects and tutorials. We analyze key issues across three categories: 1) competences, components and tools, 2) sequencing, 3) and communication. We offer findings that are both practical guidelines for detailed improvements of tutorials and structural themes for improving tutorial authorship including the themes of accurate information, competences and tools, and tutorial format. In conclusion, we discuss the potential for interaction designers to simultaneously mediate and shape tutorials and tools in a form of hybrid design.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
User comments posted to popular online tutorials constitute a rich additional source of information for readers, yet cur-rent designs for displaying user comments on tutorial webpages do little to support their use. Instead, comments are separated from the tutorial content they reference and tend to be ordered according to post date. We propose and evaluate the TaggedComments system, a new approach to displaying comments that users post to online tutorials. Us-ing tags supplied by commenters, TaggedComments seeks to enhance the role of user comments by 1) improving their visibility, 2) allowing users to personalize their use of the comments according to their particular information needs, and 3) providing direct access to potentially helpful com-ments from the tutorial content. A laboratory evaluation with 16 participants shows that, in comparison to the stand-ard comment layout, TaggedComments significantly im-proves users' subjective impressions of comment utility when interacting with Photoshop tutorials.
Article
Full-text available
Balloon Help, which is becoming standard in the Macintosh world, enables the user to display brief annotations of interface objects by passing the pointer (cursor) over those objects. This investigation explains the operation of Balloon Help, presents the theoretical and empirical rationale for Balloon Help, assesses its value in supporting both exploration of an interface and task-focused behavior, considers its relationship with other forms of help, and evaluates some possible modifications of Balloon Help. Balloon Help is viewed as a successful implementation of minimalist principles that nevertheless needs to be supplemented by other forms of documentation.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Prior research suggests that people may ask their family and friends for computer help. But what influences whether and how a "helper" will provide help? To answer this question, we conducted a qualitative investigation of people who participated in computer support activities with family and friends in the past year. We describe how factors including maintenance of one's personal identity as a computer expert and accountability to one's social network determine who receives help and the quality of help provided. We also discuss the complex, fractured relationship between the numerous stakeholders involved in the upkeep of home computing infrastructures. Based on our findings, we provide implications for the design of systems to support informal help-giving in residential settings.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We outline some of the benefits of shared visual information for collaborative repair tasks and report on a study comparing collaborative performance on a manual task by workers and helpers who are located side-by-side or connected via audio-video or audio-only links. Results show that the dyads complete the task more quickly and accurately when helpers are co-located than when they are connected via an audio link. However, they didn't achieve similar efficiency gains when they communicated through an audio/video link. These results demonstrate the value of a shared visual work space, but raise questions about the adequacy of current video communication technology for implementing it.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
For many software projects, bug tracking systems play a central role in supporting collaboration between the devel- opers and the users of the software. To better understand this collaboration and how tool support can be improved, we have quantitatively and qualitatively analysed the questions asked in a sample of 600 bug reports from the MOZILLA and ECLIPSE projects. We categorised the questions and analysed response rates and times by category and project. Our re- sults show that the role of users goes beyond simply report- ing bugs: their active and ongoing participation is important for making progress on the bugs they report. Based on the results, we suggest four ways in which bug tracking systems can be improved.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present IP-QAT, a new community-based question and answer system for software users. Unlike most community forums, IP-QAT is integrated into the actual software application, allowing users to easily post questions, answers and tips without having to leave the application. Our in-product implementation is context-aware and shows relevant posts based on a user's recent activity. It is also designed with minimal transaction costs to encourage users to easily post, include annotated images and file attachments, as well as tag their posts with relevant UI components. We describe a robust cloud-based system implementation, which allowed us to release IP-QAT to 37 users for a 2 week field study. Our study showed that IP-QAT increased user contributions, and subjectively, users found our system more useful and easier to use, in comparison to the existing commercial discussion board.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Video tutorials provide a convenient means for novices to learn new software applications. Unfortunately, staying in sync with a video while trying to use the target application at the same time requires users to repeatedly switch from the application to the video to pause or scrub backwards to replay missed steps. We present Pause-and-Play, a system that helps users work along with existing video tutorials. Pause-and-Play detects important events in the video and links them with corresponding events in the target application as the user tries to replicate the depicted procedure. This linking allows our system to automatically pause and play the video to stay in sync with the user. Pause-and-Play also supports convenient video navigation controls that are accessible from within the target application and allow the user to easily replay portions of the video without switching focus out of the application. Finally, since our system uses computer vision to detect events in existing videos and leverages application scripting APIs to obtain real time usage traces, our approach is largely independent of the specific target application and does not require access or modifications to application source code. We have implemented Pause-and-Play for two target applications, Google SketchUp and Adobe Photoshop, and we report on a user study that shows our system improves the user experience of working with video tutorials.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We describe Chronicle, a new system that allows users to explore document workflow histories. Chronicle captures the entire video history of a graphical document, and provides links between the content and the relevant areas of the history. Users can indicate specific content of interest, and see the workflows, tools, and settings needed to reproduce the associated results, or to better understand how it was constructed to allow for informed modification. Thus, by storing the rich information regarding the document's history workflow, Chronicle makes any working document a potentially powerful learning tool. We outline some of the challenges surrounding the development of such a system, and then describe our implementation within an image editing application. A qualitative user study produced extremely encouraging results, as users unanimously found the system both useful and easy to use.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper argues that the design of remote help-giving systems should be grounded in the methods (articulation work) through which help-givers and help-seekers coordinate their problem solving activities through social interaction and cooperative work. Using examples from ethnographic studies of both immediate and remote help-giving, the paper explicates the common characteristic methods involved in seeking, producing and engaging with expert advice and then outlines how emerging technologies might best be used to support such articulation work in the design and development of computer support systems for remote troubleshooting of devices with embedded computing capabilities.
Article
Users can often find it difficult to sift through dense help pages, tutorials, Q&A sites, blogs, and wikis to locate useful task-specific instructions for feature-rich applications. We present Social CheatSheet, an interactive information overlay that can appear atop any existing web application and retrieve relevant step-by-step instructions and tutorials curated by other users. Based on results of our formative study, the system offers several features for users to search, browse, filter, and bookmark community-generated help content and to ask questions and clarifications. Furthermore, Social CheatSheet includes embedded curation features for users to generate their own annotated notes and tutorials that can be kept private or shared with the user community. A weeklong deployment study with 15 users showed that users found Social CheatSheet to be useful and they were able to easily both add their own curated content and locate content generated by other users. The majority of users wanted to keep using the system beyond the deployment. We discuss the potential of Social CheatSheet as an application-independent platform driven by community curation efforts to lower the barriers in finding relevant help and instructions.
Conference Paper
Thingiverse is the largest 3D design-sharing online community with millions of users. Thingiverse provides a low-barrier-to-entry for exploring 3D printing as users can quickly download premade 3D designs and ask design-specific questions. In this paper, we investigate users' activities on Thingiverse and their conversations by using quantitative and qualitative analyses. Our findings shed light on various barriers in using, customizing, and printing premade 3D designs. The results suggest that although Thingiverse plays a key role in helping users get started with basic 3D printing, there are many opportunities to streamline the design-download-customize-print workflows. In particular, opportunities exist for designers to provide richer metadata, clarifications, and expert tips to help users succeed in printing objects and customizing existing 3D designs.
Conference Paper
Users of complex software applications often learn concepts and skills through step-by-step tutorials. Today, these tutorials are published in two dominant forms: static tutorials composed of images and text that are easy to scan, but cannot effectively describe dynamic interactions; and video tutorials that show all manipulations in detail, but are hard to navigate. We hypothesize that a mixed tutorial with static instructions and per-step videos can combine the benefits of both formats. We describe a comparative study of static, video, and mixed image manipulation tutorials with 12 participants and distill design guidelines for mixed tutorials. We present MixT, a system that automatically generates step-by-step mixed media tutorials from user demonstrations. MixT segments screencapture video into steps using logs of application commands and input events, applies video compositing techniques to focus on salient infor-mation, and highlights interactions through mouse trails. Informal evaluation suggests that automatically generated mixed media tutorials were as effective in helping users complete tasks as tutorials that were created manually.
Conference Paper
Software developers rely on support from a variety of resources---including other developers---but the coordination cost of finding another developer with relevant experience, explaining the context of the problem, composing a specific help request, and providing access to relevant code is prohibitively high for all but the largest of tasks. Existing technologies for synchronous communication (e.g. voice chat) have high scheduling costs, and asynchronous communication tools (e.g. forums) require developers to carefully describe their code context to yield useful responses. This paper introduces Codeon, a system that enables more effective task hand-off between end-user developers and remote helpers by allowing asynchronous responses to on-demand requests. With Codeon, developers can request help by speaking their requests aloud within the context of their IDE. Codeon automatically captures the relevant code context and allows remote helpers to respond with high-level descriptions, code annotations, code snippets, and natural language explanations. Developers can then immediately view and integrate these responses into their code. In this paper, we describe Codeon, the studies that guided its design, and our evaluation that its effectiveness as a support tool. In our evaluation, developers using Codeon completed nearly twice as many tasks as those who used state-of-the-art synchronous video and code sharing tools, by reducing the coordination costs of seeking assistance from other developers.
Conference Paper
Interest in understanding and facilitating 3D digital fabrication is growing in the HCI research community. However, most of our insights about end-user interaction with fabrication are currently based on interactions of professional users, makers, and technology enthusiasts. We present a study of casual makers, users who have no prior experience with fabrication and mainly explore walk-up-and-use 3D printing services at public print centers, such as libraries, universities, and schools. We carried out 32 interviews with casual makers, print center operators, and fabrication experts to understand the motivations, workflows, and barriers in appropriating 3D printing technologies. Our results suggest that casual makers are deeply dependent on print center operators throughout the process from bootstrapping their 3D printing workflow, to seeking help and troubleshooting, to verifying their outputs. However, print center operators are usually not trained domain experts in fabrication and cannot always address the nuanced needs of casual makers. We discuss implications for optimizing 3D design tools and interactions that can better facilitate casual makers' workflows.
Article
Through a comparative case study, Sheridan and colleagues explore how makerspaces may function as learning environments. Drawing on field observations, interviews, and analysis of artifacts, videos, and other documents, the authors describe features of three makerspaces and how participants learn and develop through complex design and making practices. They describe how the makerspaces help individuals identify problems, build models, learn and apply skills, revise ideas, and share new knowledge with others. The authors conclude with a discussion of the implications of their findings for this emergent field.
Article
Low-cost and commercially available 3D printers are predicted to be the next disruptive innovation in technology. However, little research has examined how non-designers might interact with fabrication tools in their homes. To explore the potential uses of 3D printers and other fabrication devices in the home, we conducted a study in which 10 households (with 28 individuals) kept a faux 3D printer in their homes for four weeks. Participants kept a log of items that they would want to print, and completed a series of design probes. We found that participants' use of the fabrication tools involved three activities: replicating existing objects, modifying and customizing existing objects, and creating new custom objects. Our study also provides insights on the types of objects that individuals wish to create, and how the faux 3D printer was situated in our participants' homes.
Conference Paper
Despite decades of research attempting to establish conversational interaction between humans and computers, the capabilities of automated conversational systems are still limited. In this paper, we introduce Chorus, a crowd-powered conversational assistant. When using Chorus, end users converse continuously with what appears to be a single conversational partner. Behind the scenes, Chorus leverages multiple crowd workers to propose and vote on responses. A shared memory space helps the dynamic crowd workforce maintain consistency, and a game-theoretic incentive mechanism helps to balance their efforts between proposing and voting. Studies with 12 end users and 100 crowd workers demonstrate that Chorus can provide accurate, topical responses, answering nearly 93% of user queries appropriately, and staying on-topic in over 95% of responses. We also observed that Chorus has advantages over pairing an end user with a single crowd worker and end users completing their own tasks in terms of speed, quality, and breadth of assistance. Chorus demonstrates a new future in which conversational assistants are made usable in the real world by combining human and machine intelligence, and may enable a useful new way of interacting with the crowds powering other systems.
Conference Paper
Web-based tutorials are a popular help resource for learning how to perform unfamiliar tasks in complex software. However, in their current form, web tutorials are isolated from the applications that they support. In this paper we present FollowUs, a web-tutorial system that integrates a fully-featured application into a web-based tutorial. This novel architecture enables community enhanced tutorials, which continuously improve as more users work with them. FollowUs captures video demonstrations of users as they perform a tutorial. Subsequent users can use the original tutorial, or choose from a library of captured community demonstrations of each tutorial step. We conducted a user study to test the benefits of making multiple demonstrations available to users, and found that users perform significantly better using our system with a library of multiple demonstrations in comparison to its equivalent baseline system with only the original authored content.
Article
Web-based technical support such as discussion forums and social networking sites have been successful at ensuring that most technical support questions eventually receive helpful answers. Unfortunately, finding these answers is still quite difficult, since users' textual queries are often incomplete, imprecise, or use different vocabularies to describe the same problem. We present LemonAid, a new approach to help that allows users to find help by instead selecting a label, widget, link, image or other user interface (UI) element that they believe is relevant to their problem. LemonAid uses this selection to retrieve previously asked questions and their corresponding answers. The key insight that makes LemonAid work is that users tend to make similar selections in the interface for similar help needs and different selections for different help needs. Our initial evaluation shows that across a corpus of dozens of tasks and thousands of requests, LemonAid retrieved a result for 90% of help requests based on UI selections and, of those, over half had relevant matches in the top 2 results.
Article
Despite obvious domination of asynchronous collaborative technologies, especially for virtual classrooms and distance education, the work presented in this paper is based on the assumption that some students will still prefer the experience of on-campus, face-to-face collaborative learning. For those students a new synchronous collaborative environment is created by combining an innovative methodology for ‘same-time, same-place’ interactive learning and the technology called Group Support Systems which is designed to provide not only communication but rather computer-mediated collaboration. This paper introduces this learning methodology and illustrates its potential to improve critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills of all students who are stimulated to participate as equal learners. It also describes how teachers are transformed from ‘information delivery specialists’ to guides and facilitators of learning.
Article
This study proposes usability principles for the user interfaces (UI) design of complex 3D parametric architectural design and engineering tools. Numerous usability principles have been developed for generic desktop or web applications. The authors tried to apply existing usability principles as guidelines for evaluating complex 3D design and engineering applications. However, the principles were too generic and high-level to be useful as design or evaluation guidelines. The authors, all with more than 10 or 30 years of experience with various CAD systems, selected and reviewed 10 state-of-the-art 3D parametric design and engineering applications and captured what they thought were best practices, as screenshots and videos. The collected best practices were reviewed through a series of discussion sessions. During the discussion sessions, UI design principles underlying the collected best practices were characterized in the line of existing UI principles. Based on the best practices and the derived common UI principles, a new set of refined and detailed UI principles were proposed for improving and evaluating 3D parametric engineering design tools in the future.
Article
In collaborative design and distributed manufacturing, the need to co-develop parts by designers at different geographical locations often arises. For designing a promising product, there is always a need for collaboration among the design, marketing, finance and procurement departments, and the top management. Global manufacturing makes it difficult to frequently gather all the departments in a meeting room to discuss, because of geographical constraints. In order to address this issue, recently, a number of software tools and research works have arisen to provide collaborative solutions. In this paper, some important works in Web-based visualization and 3D concise representations, 3D streaming technology and co-design systems and feature-/assembly-based representation are elaborated. Meanwhile, previous works done by a project led by the authors towards this direction are also highlighted.
Article
Animated demonstrations have been created due to the development of direct manipulation interfaces and the need for faster learning, so that users can learn interface procedures by watching. To compare animated demonstrations with written instructions we observed users learning and performing HyperCard™authoring tasks on the Macintosh™ during three performance sessions. In the training session, users were asked either to watch a demonstration or read the procedures needed for the task and then to perform the task. In the later two sessions users were asked to perform tasks identical or similar to the tasks used in the training session. Results showed that demonstrations provided faster and more accurate learning during the training session. However, during the later sessions those who saw demonstrated procedures took longer to perform the tasks than did users of written instructions. Users appeared to be mimicking the training demonstrations without processing the information which would be needed later. In fact, when users had to infer procedures for tasks which were similar to those seen in the training session, the text group was much better at deducing the necessary procedures than the demonstration group. These findings indicate that animated demonstrations, as they were implemented for this study, were not robust enogh to aid in later transfer.
Conference Paper
Despite being an important channel for end-user assistance, few studies have directly investigated the interactions that occur in modern-day practice of software product support. We present results from a multi-dimensional analysis of product support activities at a leading design software company. We carried out a quantitative analysis of existing support requests, a survey with product support specialists, and follow-up interviews to understand the current practices in product support. In particular, we investigated the utility of different multimedia formats that modern web-based support systems enable. Our results showed that despite the value that these formats bring to support tasks, support specialists still face bottlenecks in remotely resolving software problems. We conclude by highlighting several opportunities in HCI for improving diagnosis and resolution of software issues over the web.
Conference Paper
Users of traditional tutorials and help systems often have difficulty finding the components described or pictured in the procedural instructions. Users also unintentionally miss steps, and perform actions that the documentation's authors did not intend, moving the application into an unknown state. We introduce Stencils, an interaction technique for presenting tutorials that uses translucent colored stencils containing holes that direct the user's attention to the correct interface component and prevent the user from interacting with other components. Sticky notes on the stencil's surface provide necessary tutorial material in the context of the application. In a user study comparing a Stencils-based and paper-based version of the same tutorial in Alice, a complex software application designed to teach introductory computer programming, we found that users of a Stencils-based tutorial were able complete the tutorial 26% faster, with fewer errors, and less reliance on human assistance. Users of the Stencils-based and paper-based tutorials attained statistically similar levels of learning.
Conference Paper
Interpreting compiler error messages is challenging for novice programmers. Presenting examples how other pro- grammers have corrected similar errors may help novices understand and correct such errors. This paper introduces HelpMeOut, a social recommender system that aids debug- ging by suggesting solutions that peers have applied in the past. HelpMeOut comprises IDE instrumentation to collect examples of code changes that fix compiler errors; a central database that stores fix reports from many users; and a suggestion interface that, given an error, queries the data- base and presents relevant fixes to the programmer.
Conference Paper
On-line help systems have not paralleled recent advances in user interface technology. In particular, traditional textual help does not support visualization of the interaction processes needed to complete tasks, especially in graphical interfaces. In this demonstration, we present an experimental prototype which is capable of presenting help information in text, audio, static graphics, video, and context-sensitive animation. The prototype is used in a study on how multimedia technology enhances user performance.
Conference Paper
Hacking, tinkering, DIY, and crafts are increasingly popular forms of leisure that have also become growing sites of study in HCI. In this work we take a wide view of the similarities and differences between these practices. We explore a broad spectrum of such activities, which we collectively describe as inventive leisure practices (ILP). We ask how members of various hacking communities make sense of their practice and involvement, and discuss 8 themes we found in common in hackers' practices. We conclude by proposing a working definition for ILPs.
Conference Paper
We investigate the use of on-line contextual video assistance to improve the learnability of software functionality. After discussing motivations and design goals for such forms of assistance, we present our new technique, ToolClips. ToolClips augment traditional tooltips to provide users with quick and contextual access to both textual and video assistance. In an initial study we found that users successfully integrated ToolClip usage into the flow of their primary tasks to overcome learnability difficulties. In a second study, we found that with ToolClips, users successfully completed 7 times as many unfamiliar tasks, in comparison to using a commercial professionally developed on-line help system. Users also retained the information obtained from ToolClips, performing tasks significantly faster one week later.
Conference Paper
It is well-accepted that learnability is an important aspect of usability, yet there is little agreement as to how learnability should be defined, measured, and evaluated. In this paper, we present a survey of the previous definitions, metrics, and evaluation methodologies which have been used for software learnability. Our survey of evaluation methodologies leads us to a new question-suggestion protocol, which, in a user study, was shown to expose a significantly higher number of learnability issues in comparison to a more traditional think-aloud protocol. Based on the issues identified in our study, we present a classification system of learnability issues, and demonstrate how these categories can lead to guidelines for addressing the associated challenges. Author Keywords Software, Learning, Learnability, Usability, Think-Aloud, Question-Suggestion, Evaluation.
Conference Paper
Current forms of on-line help do not adequately reflect the graphical and dynamic nature of modern graphical user interfaces. Many of today's software applications provide text-based on-line help to assist users in performing a specific task. This report describes a study in which 176 undergraduates received on-line help instructions for completing seven computer-based tasks. Instructions were provided in either written or spoken form with or without still graphic or animated visuals. Results consistently revealed that visuals, either still graphic or animated, in the on-line help instructions enabled the users to significantly perform more tasks in less time and with fewer errors than did users who did not have visuals accompanying the on-line help instructions. Although users receiving spoken instructions were faster and more accurate for the initial set of tasks than were users receiving written instructions, the majority of subjects preferred written instructions over spoken instructions. The results of this study suggest additional empirically-based guidelines to designers for the development of effective on-line help.
Conference Paper
In a study of collaborative help-giving within several organizations settings, we identified two forms of trouble and bewilderment that we explore further in this paper. In one case, the user is confused about where they, their files, or other resources are within a larger technical infrastructure (Where am I?). In the second case, the user isn't sure which login is needed and which actions are allowed (Who am I?). We believe that these issues carry important implications for the design of interfaces that can explicitly support repair and problem-solving, and that they are essential to consider in the development of CSCW and ubiquitous computing applications.
Conference Paper
We describe Sketch-Sketch Revolution, a new tutorial system that allows any user to experience the success of drawing content previously created by an expert artist. Sketch-Sketch Revolution not only guides users through the application user interface, it also provides assistance with the actual sketching. In addition, the system offers an authoring tool that enables artists to create content and then automatically generates a tutorial from their recorded workflow history. Sketch-Sketch Revolution is a unique hybrid tutorial system that combines in-product, content-centric and reactive tutorial methods to provide an engaging learning experience. A qualitative user study showed that our system successfully taught users how to interact with a drawing application user interface, gave users confidence they could recreate expert content, and was uniformly considered useful and easy to use.
Article
We present a demonstration-based system for automatically generating succinct step-by-step visual tutorials of photo manipulations. An author first demonstrates the manipulation using an instrumented version of GIMP that records all changes in interface and application state. From the example recording, our system automatically generates tutorials that illustrate the manipulation using images, text, and annotations. It leverages automated image labeling (recognition of facial features and outdoor scene structures in our implementation) to generate more precise text descriptions of many of the steps in the tutorials. A user study comparing our automatically generated tutorials to hand-designed tutorials and screen-capture video recordings finds that users are 20--44% faster and make 60--95% fewer errors using our tutorials. While our system focuses on tutorial generation, we also present some initial work on generating content-dependent macros that use image recognition to automatically transfer selection operations from the example image used in the demonstration to new target images. While our macros are limited to transferring selection operations we demonstrate automatic transfer of several common retouching techniques including eye recoloring, whitening teeth and sunset enhancement.
Article
Research focused on the user experience of home networking repeatedly finds that householders have difficulties setting up networked equipment. No research to date, however, has studied the in the moment interactions of householders with networking technical support professionals. In this paper, we analyze 21 phone calls to a technical support call center of a home network hardware manufacturer. The phone calls focus on overcoming difficulties during one particular task: adding a wireless router to an existing home network. Our results reaffirm prior studies in remote collaboration that suggest a need to support shared understandings of the problem at hand between remote parties. Our results also suggest that technical properties of the home network and the structure of the home itself complicate the social work of remote diagnosis and repair. In response, we suggest new approaches for remote home network problem diagnosis and repair, including resources for householders to reason about their home networks prior to call placement, and improved methods of inter-organizational information sharing between stakeholders.
Article
Technological advances have an ever-increasing impact on society. Globalization and the changing structures of organizations have created virtual work groups that are distributed across space and time. Collaboration among workers is vital to ongoing organizational activities and project-based activities. Communication is often seen as the most important factor contributing to the success of individuals, project teams, and organizational growth. Improved connectivity together with the increase in groups and teams has resulted in increased interest in extending the usefulness of IT at the individual level to support the issues faced by dispersed teams. This study compares the performance of 64 virtual teams utilizing 4 different collaborative technologies: 1. text-only, 2. audio-only, 3. text-video, and 4. audio-video. While the results of the study found no significant difference between the quality of the decisions for teams using text-only versus audio-only communication, the addition of video to audio-only communication resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of teams' strategic decisions.
Conference Paper
Crowdsourcing has been shown to be an effective approach for solving difficult problems, but current crowdsourcing systems suffer two main limitations: (i) tasks must be repackaged for proper display to crowd workers, which generally requires substantial one-off programming effort and support infrastructure, and (ii) crowd workers generally lack a tight feedback loop with their task. In this paper, we introduce Legion, a system that allows end users to easily capture existing GUIs and outsource them for collaborative, real-time control by the crowd. We present mediation strategies for integrating the input of multiple crowd workers in real-time, evaluate these mediation strategies across several applications, and further validate Legion by exploring the space of novel applications that it enables.
ABC and 3D: opportunities and obstacles to 3D printing in special education environments
  • Erin Buehler
  • Shaun K Kane
  • Amy Hurst
Erin Buehler, Shaun K. Kane, and Amy Hurst. 2014. ABC and 3D: opportunities and obstacles to 3D printing in special education environments. In Proceedings of the 16th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers & accessibility, 107-114.
Mixt: automatic generation of step-by-step mixed media tutorials
  • Pei-Yu Chi
  • Sally Ahn
  • Amanda Ren
  • Mira Dontcheva
  • Wilmot Li
  • Bjorn Hartmapp
AI And Chatbots Are Transforming The Customer Experience
  • Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken. 2017. AI And Chatbots Are Transforming The Customer Experience. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2017/07/15/ai-and-chatbotsare-transforming-the-customer-experience
Exploring Maker Practice: Common Attitudes, Habits and Skills from Vancouver's Maker Community
  • Andrew Milne
  • Bernhard Riecke
  • Alissa Antle
Andrew Milne, Bernhard Riecke, and Alissa Antle. Exploring Maker Practice: Common Attitudes, Habits and Skills from Vancouver's Maker Community. Studies 19, 21: 23.