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Browse Prior Art Database

Context-based user assistance through video

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000189347D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Nov-06
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Nov-06
Document File: 4 page(s) / 32K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a solution that tracks user actions, staying aware of the user’s current location within a task flow, and uses this information to provide quick and easy access to video-based help for the current sub-task.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 34% of the total text.

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Context-based user assistance through video

Modern software products often include user assistance materials to assist the user in learning how to perform a task. The user assistance is often text, video or a combination of text and video media.

Both text and video instructional media have advantages and disadvantages. Text has the advantage of allowing the user to skim the content, skipping over material that is already known as well as to re-read passages that were not fully understood on the first pass. However, text does a relatively poor job of describing complex user actions. On the other hand, video makes it easy for users to learn complex actions by imitation, but a poor job of supporting 'direct-access' to content. While most video media players support fast forward and reverse operations as well as linear positioning indicators to set start points for playing or replaying, these operations are far more cumbersome than information skimming that can be performed almost unconsciously when reading.

Some instructional materials make both video and text formats available in the same user interface (e.g a Web page). However, these materials only make both forms easy to access. The text content is still limited in its ability to describe actions and video is difficult to search. It might be possible to break the video into small snippets and embed launch icons in the text but this would clutter the text and compromise the ability to view the entire video from end to end.

It has become common, in recent years, for software products to provide video tutorials as a method of user assistance. Generally, one of the following related approaches is taken:

- Traditional textual help and video tutorials are each provided, with the videos being available via a separate, dedicated page
- Traditional textual help is provided with links to tutorials provided from another section
- Links (often represented with a camera icon) to video are integrated, as appropriated into textual help

These tutorials can be extremely valuable, allowing users to watch a demonstration of the execution of a particular user task. However, these tutorials can be disadvantageous for users who want help with one or a small series of small sub-tasks because the tutorials require users to expend the necessary time to watch the entire tutorial in search for a specific area of need (or attempt to search through the video). Whereas, with textual help, users are able to perform a search to locate the specific info of interest; this is not easy with video tutorials. Likewise, it would be very inefficient for those who want to view the whole task tutorial if the tutorials were segmented into bite-sized snippets (either as individual videos or as modules)

Here's a typical scenario that is problematic with the currently-available solutions.

1. User wants to learn how to use a new software program to complete a particular

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