Contents

Totara User's Guide

Simulation

The Simulation (CPM Sim) is an activity focused on simulating the behavior of desktop/web-based software or forms.

learner's view of a simulation example
Simulation: Learner View

Rather than attempting to replicate every feature of a particular set of software, the simulation is broken down in to a series of states or screens. Each screen has a finite set of controls: Text Input, Select drop-downs, etc. When the user correctly enters the required information into all controls for a screen and clicks an action button, the user is moved to the next screen.

A Simulation Activity can have any number of simulations the learner can view. Each simulation can have any number of screens and each screen any number of controls. However, care should be taking not to overload the learner with too many steps or controls.

Simulations should be considered instructional interactions for practice and reinforcement — not evaluation. Simulations aren’t substitutes for a quiz. By the same token, a simulation is not a course. Primary instruction on how to use the software you are simulating should happen in an in-person class or SCORM content before the learner encounters the simulation as there is limited available space for instructions outside of brief “next steps.”

Warning

Simulations are a niche activity and can be particularly difficult to create. The built-in editor mitigates this to some extent, but there are a number of pitfalls that can prevent your simulation from launching or prevent learners from completing them.

Any simulation, no matter how simple, requires significant planning, some skill with Photoshop and a focus on accessible naming and Learner messaging at every step.

There are a series of instructional videos currently in production to walk you through the process, from concept to finished product. Stay tuned.

Simulation Activity Settings

simulation activity Settings
Simulation Activity Settings

After adding a new simulation activity to your course, the you will be presented with a small number of settings.

Simulation Name
The name of the simulation as it will appear on the course index page as well as the title  that appears on the activity page. Most of these settings are the same for any activity, so only the important settings are covered here.
Description
A Learner-focused description of the activity, as well as any instructions the learner needs to know to complete the activity (and thus, the course itself).
Display description on course page
Displays the description underneath the activity title. Good for letting the user know what they’re getting into before clicking the link for the activity.
Completion Tracking
Determines whether the activity is required to be completed. From a practical standpoint, you will only ever use the option “Show activity as complete when conditions are met” and on very rare occasions “Do not indicate activity completion“.
Require view
Learner must view this activity to complete it
This setting requires the user to view the activity page. From a practical standpoint this is a pointless setting required by the system. Leave it unchecked.
Mark complete if any simulation is completed
This setting will mark the entire simulation activity complete if the learner completes any simulation. This is useful if you want the learner to use the simulations to practice something they don’t understand rather than view the entire library of simulations.
Mark Complete when all simulations are completed
The learner must view and complete all simulations in order to complete the activity. This is normally the option you will use.

Once you supply the required information for this screen and click Save and Display, you are brought to the simulation activity page. This is the same view the learner sees (minus a few creator actions). This of this simulation activity page (or simulation list) as a container for simulations — as previously mentioned you can have as many simulations as you want in each activity.

To create a simulation, you will click the Add Simulation button at the bottom of this screen.

Simulation Settings

simulation settings form
Simulation Settings

These are the settings for the actual simulations — the interactive bit the learner views. The settings are fairly simple, but there are some complexities that can make this process frustrating.

Simulation Title
The title of the simulation. This text should be the action or goal you’re asking of the learner. Title’s such as “Open an Existing Case” is much more useful to a learner than “Simulation One.”
Short Description
A short blurb about the the task. Use this area to further expand on the title and give learners a good understanding of what they’ll be doing in the simulation. Keep it down to a short sentence or two or your simulation list will be difficult for the learner to scan.
Simulation Order
This field defines the order the simulations will appear in the list. It only accepts whole numbers and the numbers don’t have to be in order. In fact, when you create your simulations, make your simulation order step in 10’s (that is, 10, 20, 30…) so that if you need to add a simulation later, you can easily add up to 9 more.
Screen Images
The images used to create the basis for the screens in this simulation. These images should all be the same size and resolution and match the dimensions of your simulation itself. Be sure to optimize your screen shots before uploading.
Edit Simulation Behavior
This section contains a single button Launch Simulation Editor, which will open the editor in an overlay.

When you open this screen, the Launch Simulation Editor button will be disabled. You must have all images uploaded to the system and the settings (including the images) must be saved before you can launch the editor.

This is one of the potential pitfalls of simulations: Before you can build a simulation, you must have all of your images in their final form. Again, this implies that you have sufficiently planned the simulation and have all of your assets, text and screens ready to go before you create the simulation in the LMS.

With your final images in place and all details added, you can save the simulation settings and launch the editor.

The Simulation Editor

The Simulation Editor is an application for editing the details of the appearance and behavior of a simulation. It behaves similarly to other web-editing applications and there are a few primary panels:

Editor Panels Detail
Editor Panels Detail
1 Title Bar
Contains the name of the simulation you are editing as well as a save and exit button. A few details:

  • The save button will contain a green circle when there are unsaved changes
  • The simulation editor with autosave every 5 minutes
  • The exit button does not save the simulation. Exiting and reopening the editor will restore the last saved state.
2 Context Selector
These three icons will allow you to switch editing contexts between (in order) Simulation, Screen, or Control so you can edit the properties for each. If this sounds complex, don’t worry: Context will automatically switch when you click on a control or screen.
3 Properties Panel
This section will contain the properties of the currently selected element that you can edit. Each section of the panel is collapsable/expandable by clicking the – / + symbol at the right of the section heading.
The majority of this documentation will be covering the details of this panel for the various controls and contexts.
4 Screen Quick Navigator
A list of screen thumbnails that can be clicked to quickly jump to a particular a screen.
5 The Editing Canvas
The WYSIWYG editor for your screens and controls.

Editor: Simulation Settings

editor panel: simulation settings
Simulation Settings

Clicking the simulation icon displays the simulation settings which govern global simulation settings.

General settings
Width
The width of simulation and all screens. Simulations can be between 480 and 960 pixels wide.
Height
The height of the simulation and all screens.  Simulations can be between 320 and 640 pixels high.
Next Simulation
Next Simulation ID
The internal ID of the simulation to plan next, if the feature has been enabled. Simulations can ‘chan’
from one simulation to the next so that the learner does not have to return to the list to view the next
simulation.The simulation ID can be found in the simulation list. Each simulation title has a number at the right side, visible only  for course creators, that contains the ID for the simulationthe simulation id is indicated by a green arrow and appears on the right side of the title bar for each simulation in the list
Note that simulations can only chain to other simulations within the same activity.
Screens
This is the master list of screens for the simulation. Clicking Add Screen will add a new empty screen.  You
can:

  • Edit any screen by clicking on the name
  • Delete a screen by clicking the trash can icon on the right of the screen widget
  • Move the screen up in the display order by clicking the up chevron on the left of the screen widget
  • Move the screen down in the display order by clicking the down chevron on the left of the screen
    widget

Simulation Editor: Screen Settings

Screen Settings editor tab
Screen Settings

Clicking the Screen icon will display the settings for the particular screen that is selected (or, “no screen selected”).

General Settings
Screen Title
This is the name of the screen and should reflect the actual screen name in the application you are
simulating.This screen name is read to the learners using assistive technology.
Accessible Description
This text must accurately describe the contents of the screen. Best practice dictates that you describe
the non-editable screen content in some detail, as well as indicate which portions of the screen can be
edited.
Background Image
A dropdown containing a list of the images you uploaded when setting up the simulation in the LMS.
Focus Brightness
Sets whether this screen should use a “dark” or “bright” focus indicator to the user. The default
(“Darker Focus Rect”) is typically acceptable for most UI’s. However, darker screens (such as simulating
terminal applications like OSIS) should use a the “Lighter Focus Rect.”
Controls
The list of controls used in this screen. Available controls are:

  • Single-Line Text
  • Paragraph Text
  • Select Drop-down
  • Select Multiple
  • Checkbox
  • Radio Group
  • Static Text
  • Button
  • Clickable Area
  • Prompt

The controls for each control in the list are similar to those of screens, allowing you to select, edit, move
and delete controls.

Accessibility Note

The tab order is determined by the order of the controls in the list. Ensure that your controls use an understandable tab order (left to right, top to bottom) or your simulation may be removed for accessibility issues.

Each control is covered in detail on it’s corresponding page.
Error Handling
Error Dialog Message
The message displayed to the learner if they do not fulfill the requirements of the current screen and press an action button. This field allows you to use a limited set of Markdown formatting to style text.
Show Individual Hints
Alters the behavior of the error dialog. If turned off, the dialog will display only the message you specified in the Error Dialog Message field. If turned on, the dialog will also display individual hints associated with each control beneath the Error Dialog Message.
Failure Handling
Attempts Allowed
Every screen must have an “escape hatch” for users who are having trouble. This number sets the number of times the learner is allowed to fail before they can continue past the screen.
Failure Dialog Message
The message displayed to the learner if they fail the current screen. This field allows you to use a limited set of Markdown formatting to style text.