See this blog entry for what this page is all about. In short: design concepts and requirements for a Plasma layout for educational needs.
Try and keep thoughts in logical groups, and if there is discussion be sure to include your name with your thoughts.
Because computers in schools are scarse, most of them are shared by several students at several moments. It would be nice if the desktop recognizes the user that is logged in, see to what group the user belongs (6year old, 7year old etc) and then shows a desktop that is best suited for this student. One can think of the following changes in the desktop:
-application icons for this student/group to start applications with one click (touch?). Only the applications are visible that are needed for this specific student/group
-wallpaper adapted to this student
-font sizes (6 year old need bigger fonts then 12 year olds)
-number of desktops (one desktop for a 6 year old, 12 year can have multiple)
For this to work there should be a possibility for a teacher to set the application per group (or even per student). As a teacher you can prepare the lessons in the evening by installing the icons and the only thing the students needs to do next morning is login and click the applications that are available.
as stated before the panel complexity should be adaptable to the capabilities of a student/group. Think of:
-number of available desktops
-shortcut buttons to common applications (firefox, or a browser targeted to small children)
Problems with Current Desktop
- KDE menu is very long and complicated looking, especially having 2x system and 2x settings. Try to find Konsole in one shot!
- Some Edu apps are buried under incomprehensible menu entries for younger kids (eg. edutainment/miscellaneous/)
- Kids very easily "damage" the panel - delete or move K button, move the whole panel to the side. I see this a lot.
- Minimised apps are too faint on the panel, and kids log out leaving them open. This leads to problems with OOo or Iceweasel "already running" errors.
- The open/save dialogues of non-KDE apps are different, using double-click, "browse for more folders", and other Gnome-isms that cause confusion.
Cases of study
You have a general description of the project here: http://www.grupocpd.com/archivos_documentos/info_meduxa/meduxa_project_released/#
Launchpad link to hexperides project (meduxa based): https://code.launchpad.net/~hexperides/hexperides/main
Primary school desktop configurations
This profile was oriented to pupils up to 8 years old. Many usability oriented configurations were made. In general, size of every element ha been increased and a strong selection of apps have also been made. Many of them didn't have a good behaviour when configured under kiosk mode.
The major desktop configurations were:
- The desktop didn't include kpanel. The only really basic feature it is needed for is Minimice/maximice apps. We configured the mouse for that.
- Buttons reduced from 3 to 2. Mouse wheel was disabled. Note: this supposed a heavy disccusion not resolved. Some teachers pointed that it should be the right button the one to be disabled. All agreed on having only two available.
- Right button only showed minimised apps
- Left button configured with double click with a greater delay than the default config. A profiles for left handed kids should be added, since kids nor teachers couldn't change kiosk mode configs.
- Pointer was maximised. An attractive icon for this was needed.
- Windows and buttons (in bars) lost definition with KDE3 series when maximiced. some limitations weren't possible to overpass.
- We made fonts bigger. we also showed icons + text when we could. Eventhough smaller kids do not know how to read, the associate letters to icons so when they learn, it is much easier for them to understand the vocabulary.
- Only predefined buttons were define as visible. We hide most of the config options in every app. We added the close button and the help button in all of them. The close button was always on the right side. Coherency on the position of the buttons was applied.
- Many help manuals were in english.
- We decided to separate the browser (firefox) from the file manager (Konqueror).
- We used the GNOME Jumbo theme. Firefox didn't have any option for avoiding kids to change config options (they were in the home directory). Hiding them was the only option. Many bug reports expected because of that (unsolved problem by that time. Other gnome based edu distros had the same problem)
- We grouped the apps to allow a better understanding. We place the most used ones close to the middle of the screen. We put the log out button at the button right corner, the less accessible one.
- A special wallpaper was made to reinforce this concept. The base colour was blue, not because of the kids, but because of the teachers, since most of them came from the dark side ;). remember computers had dual bot (windows / linux). we wanted to reduce the impact but still having a funnier look.
- Drag and drop was avoided except inside konqueror. It was too difficult for younger kids and many unexpected things happen when they played with it. In konqueror, the impact wasn't so important since it only affected to data, which it is not critical to little kids since they don't re-use it much.
- Icons were locked and couldn't been erased.
- The names of the apps were changed to something that remids what the app is used for. For instance: Konqueror changed into Mi Mochila (my bag), firefox became navegar (browse) and so on.
- Contrast in icons and text were increased and their size increased.
- selected folders colour was changed to increase contrast.
- To be able to empty it, the trash can was placed on the desktop. That is a procedure kids need to learn since they assume that something they cannot see, doesn't exist anymore.
- The device icons were placed under an specific folder in the home directory (La Mochila).
- some instructions were made to teachers so they can run an app not included in the desktop on this profile, so they can use this desktop to perpare their lessons.
- No need of any password to login. Remember last session when log in option set.
Kiosk mode paths
- File association was changed: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/config/profilerc
- The profile config archives were located here: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/config/kdeglobals
- The desktop config files were located here:
- wallpaper options: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/config/ksplashrc
- Fonts and icons customisations: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/config/kpersonalizerrc
- keyboard configs: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/config/kcminputrc
- kpanel configs:
- konqueror configs:
- Icons position: /usr/local/share/kde-profile/meduxa_primaria/share/apps/kdesktop/Desktop/.directory
More configs were made.