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USOO5577186A
United States Patent [191
[11]
Patent Number:
Mann, II et al.
[45]
Date of Patent:
[54]
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR
PROVIDING A GENERIC COMPUTERIZED
MULTIlVIEDIA TUTORIAL INTERFACE FOR
TRAINING A USER ON MULTIPLE
APPLICATIONS
[76]
5,577,186
Nov. 19, 1996
Microsoft Works, Microsoft Corporation, 1989, pp. 7 and
30.
Whitehom, PC User No. 221, pp. 42-44, Oct. 20, 1993
(abstract only).
Inventors: S. Edward Mann, II, 11020 Huebner
Oak #1136, San Antonio, Tex. 78230;
Frederic Milliot, 5 Rue Boulle 75011,
Paris, France
Primary Examiner—Heather R. Herndon
Assistant Examiner-Stephen Hong
Attorney, Agent, or Firm~—Bruce E. Garlick
[21] Appl. No.: 541,221
[57]
[22] Filed:
A computerized, multimedia tutorial interface system (10)
Oct. 12, 1995
ABSTRACT
and method for training a user to use computer application
Related US. Application Data
software. The system incorporates the training techniques of
video segments, on-line tutorials, written instruction, and
[63]
Continuation of Ser. No. 283,618, Aug. 1, 1994.
[51]
[52]
[58]
Int. Cl.6 .................................................... .. G06F 9/455
US. Cl. ........................................... .. 395/806; 395/340
Field of Search ................................... .. 395/154-155,
395/133, 161, 153, 157; 434/118; 364/401
leaming-by-doing lessons. The system and method incor~
porate the video segments into the system so that they may
be displayed on a computer screen (26). User input is given
by way of a mouse (22), keyboard (30), or by voice through
an audio interface (34). Once the video clip is displayed on
a video window (55), the system preferably runs a set of
[56]
References Cited
instructions within the computer application software to
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
demonstrate the exact sequence of instructions that were
4,586,905
discussed in the video clip. Once this is completed, written
5/1986 Groff ..................................... .. 434/307
4,637,797
1/1987 Whitney et a1. .
.. 434/118
4,701,130
10/1987 Whitney et al. .
434/118
4,772,206
4,798,543
5,237,648
9/1988 Kerr et al. ..... ..
1/1989 Spiece ............ ..
8/1993 Mills et al. .... ..
434/118
434/323
395/133
5,311,422
5/1994
5,388,993
2/1995 McKiel et al.
Loftin et a1.
.. . . .
5,448,739
9/1995
. . . . . ..
364/401
434/118
Jacobson ............................... .. 395/700
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
instruction is provided and the user is then given an oppor
tunity to execute the same functions as previously described
and executed by the system. In this fashion, lesson content
is multiply reinforced. The system may also include user
monitoring to ensure that the user correctly enters the
instructions as well as to monitor the progress the user is
making in his or her training. Preferred applications of the
system and method of the present invention include appli
cation software, on-line services, and other complicated
computer software systems.
Staiti, Datamation vol. 39, No. 22, Nov. 15, 1993, p. 2
(abstract only).
Microsoft Excel 5.0, Microsoft Corporation, 1994, Screen
Printouts pp. 1—8.
12 Claims, 5 Drawing Sheets
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FILE EDITION AFFICHAGE STYLE SPECIAL OPTIONS INFO
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US. Patent
Nov. 19, 1996
Sheet 2 of 5
5,577,186
5,577,186
1
2
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR
PROVIDING A GENERIC CONIPUTERIZED
MULTIMEDIA TUTORIAL INTERFACE FOR
TRAINING A USER ON MULTIPLE
on-line tutorials were developed. On-line tutorials typically
combined a written description of a particular function of the
software and instruction in speci?c commands that would
allow a user to perform the function. These on-line tutorials
typically allowed a user to perform a few instructions at a
APPLICATIONS
time as directed by the tutorial with the instructions being
monitored to ensure correctness of operation. While these
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/283,618,
on-line tutorials provided the bene?t of learning while
?led Aug. 1, 1994.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
doing, they were typically di?icult to follow and did not
10
inadequate written explanation that canied over from the
This invention relates to training users of computer soft
ware. More particularly, this invention relates to a computer
user’s manual was that such information was conveyed to
the user only in a written format displayed on the screen.
based system employing a multimedia approach to training
users of various types of computer applications by providing
audio\visual instruction along with on-line practice sessions
using a multi-dimensional lesson monitoring approach.
For many years application programs, on-line services,
and other computer application software have been available
for use with digital computers. Application programs per
form word processing functions, numeric functions, data
Further, because they were speci?c to the particular appli
cation program, they did not provide a familiar reference
frame for the user and the user ?rst had to learn to use the
on-line tutorial in the particular program.
Thus, attempts were made to combine the bene?ts of
classroom training with the bene?ts of hands-on training on
the user’ s own machine. A few vendors recorded classroom
training programs on video cassettes so that a user could
play the lessons at his or her own speed on a nearby
base functions, accounting functions, inventory control
functions, and a wide variety of other functions. Application
programs serve not only to increase the e?iciency of the user
but to increase the user’s accuracy as well. On-line services
allow a user to access large databases of information.
television while simultaneously working on the computer.
25
software or on-line service, a signi?cant amount of time is
required to educate the user in the use of the computer
application software or information services. Not until the
user is su?iciently trained in the use of the computer
application software or service may substantial bene?ts be
derived from the program or service.
The earliest approaches to training users were by the
ing tools involved written instruction books that were
included with the programs. These books described the
functions available in the software, how to implement the
functions, and the limitations of the functions. The earliest
training books were written in a highly technical manner that
prevented the average user from gaining a thorough under
Thus, a user could combine the bene?ts of working on his
or her own machine while also obtaining the bene?ts of
being in a classroom. Unfortunately, there was no interplay
between the video being viewed and the user’s commands
issued to the computer application software. While this
system allowed the user to play the video in his of her of?ce,
it did not provide the interactive bene?ts available from
other techniques. Thus, the system did not reinforce the
commands described in the video and required the simulta
However, when ?rst implementing the computer application
providers of computer application software. The ?rst train
provide adequate explanation. Part of the problem related to
neous operation of two separate machines.
A recent visual teaching aid, sold under the tradename
35
LOTUS SCREENCAM, displays images on a computer
screen that are identical to those displayed within an appli
cation program. However, even though the teaching aid
to use the programs. Over time, with increased competition,
the written materials became easier to read and understand,
displays images that a user would encounter during use of
the program, the teaching aid merely functions like a video
player. The teaching aid merely displays to the user a proper
sequence of keystrokes and/or mouse movements that would
be required to execute speci?c functions and does not
provide interaction between the user and the actual appli
cation program.
providing more thoughtful approaches to educating the user.
While the software industry developed, some persons and
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
standing of the program. Resultantly, a large industry grew
around providing written training materials for training users
organizations recognized the shortcomings of the written
book type instruction and stepped in to provide classroom
and interpersonal instruction. Classroom type instruction
targeted speci?c software that was popular enough to justify
the large capital expenses associated with this type of
training. Levels of instruction varied from lectures given in
large auditoriums all the way down to one-on-one training
sessions. While this type of instruction proved to be quite
successful due to its human aspect, it was very expensive
and generally required that the new user leave his or her
place of employment to attend. Further, because the user
generally was not provided with hands on training, and even
50
55
It is therefore a general object of the invention to over
come the above described limitations, and others, of the
prior tutorial devices and methods. More particularly, it is an
object of the invention to provide a computer based tutorial
interface system that provides a user with audio/visual
training on speci?c functions of a computer program or
computer service, provides actual samples of the implemen
tation of the functions, assists the user in learning to perform
the function within the computer application software, and
requires the user to take an active approach in the training by
performing actual instructions within the application soft
if he or she was, the training was not performed on his or her
own machine. Because of dilferences in machines and
ware on the user’s own machine.
environments used in the training classes, the user could not
always transfer the knowledge he or she had obtained to his
tutorial interface system for training a user to use a computer
or her own computer.
To accomplish these objects, a computerized, multimedia
application comprises, generally, a user control interface, an
audiovisual tutorial interface, and a computer application
software interface. The system preferably takes the form of
a software engine that performs all necessary control and
Over time, vendors of the software and others in the 65
industry recognized the value of training the user on his or
interface functions between the user, a video tutorial that is
her own machine while inside the software itself. Thus,
5,577,186
3
4
displayed on the user’s computer screen, and the computer
application software itself. In this fashion the interface
tions will be used as a guide and compared to the user’s
system allows a user to control the video tutorial, view an
feedback to the user.
execution of program functions, and practice performing the
The system of the present invention may also include
evaluation means that evaluates the instructions issued by
instructions. In this fashion, the system provides immediate
functions of the program itself. The system resides on the
user’s machine so that the user may perform all of the
functions at his or her leisure. In this manner, lessons learned
the user and issue a summary of the user’s performance in
will be imprinted fully.
edge and pro?ciency may be gauged and reported. Further,
Preferably, the system includes control display means,
instruction input and interpretation means, audiovisual
enablement means, and computer application software inter
issuing the instructions. In this fashion, the user’s knowl
10
face and control means. The control display means displays
a control window on a computer screen through which the
training a user to use computer application software. The
user may select any of a plurality of instructions using
keyboard, mouse, or verbal input. As one option, the user
views a video segment that describes a speci?c function of
the computer application software. Preferably, the user may
select these video segments on a chapter-by-chapter and
steps of this method parallel those described above for use
of the system. The method includes steps of providing a user
with an audiovisual tutorial, executing certain program
functions, and allowing a user to execute the described
functions. These steps are carried out in a manner analogous
to the use of the system described above. The method also
lesson-by-lesson basis. Other functions include moving for
ward, backward, or searching for a particular lesson, view
includes additional instructions more fully described herein.
The system and method of the present invention provide
ing the execution of a sequence of instructions within the
computer application software, and gaining control over the
computer application software, among others. In this fash
ion, the user can control the operation of the system as
desired. Responsive to the user’s input, the instruction input
and interpretation means receives the instruction and
executes the respective command within the system.
When a video play command is selected by the user, the
the progress made by the user in his completion of the
training may also be monitored.
The present invention also comprises a computerized
method for providing a multimedia tutorial interface for
25
many important advantages over the prior tutorial methods
and systems. Among other advantages, the system of the
present invention provides, in combination, the bene?ts of a
plurality of techniques so that the bene?ts may compound
and reinforce each other. The present invention provides a
user controllable audiovisual tutorial program that displays
audiovisual enablement means receives the execution
visual information on the user’s own computer screen.
instruction, retrieves the selected audiovisual information,
Therefore, the user may selectively view any lesson in the
tutorial without leaving his or her o?ice and machine.
and displays the audiovisual information on at least a portion
of a computer screen. Preferably, the audiovisual informa
30
After the video clip has been played, the system con?rms
and enforces the lesson by demonstrating the function or
tion comprises various pre-recorded tutorial video clips that
describe a speci?c function or feature of the computer
service feature that was described in the video clip. The
application software. Preferably, these video clips are dis
system demonstrates, step-by-step, the instructions required
played on a window on the computer screen separate from
35
the control bar. However, at the user’s option, the window
could be expanded or contracted to provide a larger or
smaller viewing area.
Preferably, after the video clip is displayed, the computer
to perform the described function or service feature. There
fore, the user is instructed exactly how to perform the
function described in the video. Because these instructions
are demonstrated as performed within the computer appli
cation software itself, the environment is exact, and no
application software interface means interfaces with the
translation of techniques is required.
computer application software and selectively executes the
The system also allows the user to practice the commands
that were described immediately after they were performed
function described in the video segment so that the user may
watch the particular functions that were described in the
video clip execute within the computer application software.
by the system. This reinforcement ensures that the user has
45 mastered the function described. Because the system and
While the function that is executed will generally be the one
method of the present invention combines the bene?ts of
that was previously described in an video segment, the user
varied other approaches it more effectively tutors the user.
Further, because the program provides the same user inter
may also request that a speci?c function within the computer
application software be demonstrated without ?rst display
ing the related video segment. After the user has been 50
educated on the function by the video segment, the software
demonstrates how the function is executed within the pro
gram. In this manner, the lesson has been reinforced and
taught in a manner such that it may be duplicated by the user.
Preferably, at this point, a synopsis and explanation of the 55
executed commands are provided to the user.
After the system has demonstrated the computer applica
reference. And, because the user operates the system com
pletely from his or her own machine, training time is
minimized. Further, individual retention of knowledge is
maximized through the self-paced interaction with the par
ticular software ‘or service provided by the system.
Because the system of the present invention provides a
generic interface to any computer application software, the
system may be used to teach users of on-line services in the
use of the services as well as many other computer appli
tion software function to the user and provided the user with
a synopsis, the computer application software control means
selectively relinquishes control of the computer application
face, independent of the computer application software it is
teaching, it provides the user with a familiar point of
60
cations. Further, even though the system is generic, it could
software to the user. The user may then perform the func
even be embedded in a particular software program to
tions that were previously described in the video clip and
performed by the system. Preferably, in this portion of the
provide a speci?c interface. Thus, the system has great
?exibility and adaptability in its application.
operation, the system will monitor the instructions executed
These and other objects, advantages, and features of the
by the user and issue an error message to the user on the 65 invention will be apparent from the following description of
computer screen if the user executes an instruction that is
the preferred embodiments, considered along with the
erroneous. Typically, a plurality of sets of “correct” instruc
accompanying drawings.
5,577,186
6
5
The terms “application”, “computer application soft
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
ware”, and “program” are used interchangeably herein to
refer to any computer program run in conjunction with the
FIG. 1 is a functional block diagram of a computer
utilized in conjunction with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing the func
tional relationship between the components of a system
embodying the principles of the present invention.
present inventive system. Such computer programs could
relate to computer applications, with on-line services, com
munication systems, or any other computer oriented func~
tion.
FIG. 3 is a functional flow chart detailing the operation of
the system of FIG. 2.
FIGS. 4A and 4B are sample display screen view detailing
a visual interface of the embodiment of the present invention
disclosed in FIG. 2.
The term “current” is sometimes used herein as an ante
cedent to “window”, “application”, etc., and is used to
denote system components which are currently being uti
lized or performing operations with respect to a particular
computer application software running in the environment.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
EMBODIMENTS
~ NOMENCLATURE AND DEFINITIONS
The descriptions which follow are presented in part in
terms of algorithms and symbolic representations of opera
In the following description, certain details are set forth to
tions within a computer. These descriptions and representa
provide a complete understanding of the present invention.
It will be apparent to one skilled in the art, however, that
tions are the means used by those skilled in the software arts
to most effectively convey the substance of their work to 20 these speci?c details are not required in order to practice the
present invention. Also, well known electrical structures and
others skilled in the art.
circuits are depicted in block diagram form so as not to
An algorithm is here, and generally, conceived to be a
obscure the present invention unnecessarily.
self-consistent sequence of steps leading to a desired result.
These steps are those requiring physical manipulations of
physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these
25
quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals
capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared,
and otherwise manipulated. It proves convenient at times,
principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these
signals as, values, symbols, characters, display data, terms,
numbers, or the like. It should be borne in mind, however,
that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with
the appropriate physical quantities and are merely used here
as convenient labels applied to these quantities.
Further, the manipulations performed are often referred to
in terms, such as comparing, commonly associated with
mental operations performed by a human operator. No such
capability of a human operator is necessary, or desirable in
most cases, in any of the operations described herein which
35
A system 10 embodying the principles of the present
invention is shown by way of illustration in FIGS. 1-4. The
system 10 of the present invention is implemented on a
typical computer system 11 as shown in FIG. 1. This
computer system 11 typically comprises a CPU 12, a com
puter bus 14, a disc drive 16, main memory 18, a compact
disc drive 20, and user interface components. These user
interface components preferably comprise a mouse 22 and
mouse controller 24, a video display 26 and video display
controller 28, and a keyboard 30 and keyboard controller 32.
Preferably, the computer system 11 also includes an audio
interface 34 that transmits audio information to and receives
audio information from a user of the system.
As one skilled in the art will appreciate, the system and
method of the present invention are implemented on the
computer system 11 but are not readily identi?able as
form part of the present invention, since the operations are
machine operations. Useful machines for performing the
operations of the present invention include general purpose
digital computers or other similar devices. The present
invention relates to method steps and apparatus for operating
a computer in processing electrical or other physical signals
to generate other desired physical signals.
speci?c components of the system. Those skilled in the art
will readily understand how the described invention may be
implemented on any of a variety of computer systems.
Therefore, the implementation of the system on a particular
hardware platform will not be more fully described herein.
Referring now to FIGS. 2 through 4, a computerized,
The present invention also relates to a system for per
use computer application software comprises control display
means 40, instruction input means 42, instruction interpre—
forming these operations. This system may be speci?cally
multimedia tutorial interface system 10 for training a user to
constructed for the required purposes or it may comprise a 50 tation means 44, audiovisual enablement means 46, com‘
puter application software interface means 48, and computer
general purpose computer as selectively activated or recon
application software control means 50.
?gured by a computer program stored in the computer. The
algorithms presented herein are not inherently related to any
Referring speci?cally to FIGS. 2 and 3, the control
particular computer or other apparatus. In particular, various
display means 40 comprises a control bar 51 and a chapter/
general purpose machines may be used with programs 55 lesson selection screen 53, each of which are selectively
written in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may
displayed on the computer screen 26. Together, the control
prove more convenient to construct more specialized appa
bar 51 and the chapter/lesson selection screen 53 provide a
ratus to perform the required method steps. The required
plurality of instructions to a user that may be selected by the
structure for a variety of these machines will appear from the
user. As is shown, the control bar 51 preferably has com
description below.
mands similar to those found on a video tape player,
In the following description, several terms are used fre
including exit, rewind, goto, fast forward, stop, back, pause,
and play. The chapter/lesson selection screen 53 allows a
quently, have specialized meanings in the present context,
user to access video segments relating to speci?c lessons to
and are thus de?ned. The terms “environment”, “windowing
be learned. Typically the user accesses speci?c video seg
environment” and “running in windows” are used inter
changeably to denote a computer user interface in which 65 ments on a chapter-by-chapter and lesson-by'lesson basis as
information is manipulated and displayed within bounded
desired. In the preferred embodiment, the chapter/lesson
regions on a raster scanned video display.
selection screen 53 is displayed only when certain com
5,577,186
7
8
mands are executed via the control bar 51. However,
interpretation means 44. The computer application software
interface means 48 interfaces directly with computer appli
depending upon the application, the chapter/lesson selection
screen 53 could also be continuously displayed
cation software and selectively executes a function of the
computer application software that is described in a video
The instruction input means 42 operates to receive an
instruction from a user 49. Preferably, the instruction input
means 42 combines hardware and software components. In
clip. Thus, the functions performed by the computer appli
cation software interface means 48 within the computer
application software provides a second visual training tool to
the user 49 on the computer display 26. Preferably, the
function or set of functions executed within the computer
the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the
instruction input means 42 comprises the combination of the
mouse 22, the keyboard 30, the control bar 51, the chapter/
lesson selection screen 53, and related software that allows
10
the user 49 to select a desired function. Selecting a command
from a menu displayed on a computer screen 26 using a
mouse 22 and via a keyboard 30 are both well known in the
art and are not fully described herein. As one skilled in the
application software relate directly to the audiovisual seg
ment that was just displayed to the user 49. Preferably, the
computer application software interface means 48 comprises
a dynamic link library (DLL) interface communication agent
art will readily appreciate, however, the instruction input
means 42 could also include the combination of the audio 4
interface 34 in conjunction with voice recognition software.
The instruction interpretation means 44 interprets the user
instruction, creates at least one execution instruction, and
that is loaded into main memory at system 10 startup. The
DLL interface communication agent accesses instruction
sets speci?c to the computer application software of interest
that are stored in separate ?les on the disc drive 16. Thus, to
perform a speci?c set of instructions within the computer
application software, the DLL interface communication
agent brings the computer application software up on the
computer display 26, accesses the instructions, and then
executes the instructions within the computer application
program.
The computer application software control means 50
selectively issues the execution instruction. The instruction
interpretation means 44 preferably comprises a series of
software instructions executed on the computer system 11 in
a fashion well known in the art. For example, when the user
selects an instruction via the instruction input means 42,
selectively relinquishes control of the computer application
software code monitors the mouse controller 24 and key 25 software to the user 49 so that the user may practice
board controller 32 interfaces, receives input from the inter
faces, processes the input to determine what function has
operating the computer application software. The computer
been executed, and issues the proper execution instruction to
regains control of the computer application software from
application software control means 50 also selectively
the respective system component.
the user 59. In this fashion, the user may practice those
techniques that were previously described to him via the
Still referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the audiovisual enable
ment means 46 operates to receive execution instructions
video clip and also were performed by the computer appli
from the instruction input means 44, to selectively retrieve
cation software interface means 48. As one skilled in the art
audiovisual information responsive to the execution instruc
will readily appreciate, the computer application software
tion, and to display the audiovisual information on the 35 control means 50 is preferably implemented as a combina
computer screen 26. Preferably, the audiovisual information
tion of software instructions.
comprises a video clip that is retrieved from a compact disc
Preferably, the system 10 of the present invention also
via the CD drive 20. The video clip is then decoded,
comprises user instruction monitoring means 52, error mes
formatted, and displayed on the computer screen 26 in a
sage issuance means 54, and evaluation means 56, all of
video window 55. The video window 55 may cover only a
which provide feedback to the user when the user has control
portion of the computer screen 26 or may be expanded to be
of the computer application software. Speci?cally, the
as large as the screen. Preferably, as is shown in FIG. 3, the
instruction monitoring means 52 monitors the user instruc
video window 55, the control bar 51, and the chapter/lesson
selection screen 53 all reside on top of the computer appli
cation software window 57 when they are active. However,
when they are inactive, they are all hidden. Further, in the
preferred embodiment the chapter/lesson selection screen 53
is displayed only when certain user instructions are
executed.
tions issued to the computer application software, keeping
track of the instructions. When activated, the error message
45
issuance means 54 issues an error message to the user on the
computer screen 26 if the user issues instructions that are
erroneous. To determine whether the issued instructions are
erroneous, the error message issuance means 54 compares
the user’s issued instructions to a list of correct instructions.
In a typical use of the tutorial interface system, the user 50 Further, when activated, the evaluation means 56 evaluates
49 selects a speci?c video clip that corresponds to a par
ticular chapter and lesson to be learned. The video clip is
then retrieved and displayed on the computer screen 26 in
the video window 55. After the information has been dis
played, and if the process has not been aborted or otherwise
interrupted by the user, control may be returned to the user
or be given to another system 10 component. In the preferred
the instructions issued to the computer application software
by the user and issues a summary of the user’s performance
in issuing the instructions. Thereby, the evaluation means 56
provides an indication of the user’s performance in learning
55
embodiment, immediately after the video clip has been
displayed, or during a user 49 initiated break in the video
clip, control is taken again by the computer application
60
software interface means 48. However, the system 10 may
also be operated such that the computer application software
interface means 48 takes control during a video clip, halts
the video clip to demonstrate a function or service feature,
and then later restarts the video clip.
65
The computer application software interface means 48
also receives execution instructions from the instruction
to use the computer application software. As one skilled in
the art will readily appreciate, the user instruction monitor
ing means 52, error message issuance means 54, and evalu
ation means 56 are all preferably implemented as a combi
nation of software instructions and executed accordingly.
Referring speci?cally to FIG. 4, the operation of the
tutorial interface system 10 is described. In the description
of the system 10 operation, each relevant system event is
identi?ed with a numeral in parentheses. Immediately after
the system 10 is started (100), the interface with the com
puter application software is initiated and the control bar 51
and video window 55 are created (102). Next, the interface
between the main program and the DLL is established (104)
5,577,186
9
10
and the DLL interface communication agent is loaded into
application software to enforce what he or she has learned
main memory 18. At this point, the product logo is displayed
(168). Then, the user’s performance is evaluated (170).
and an introduction video segment may be played (108) on
the computer screen 26. The system 10 then prompts the user
to enter an instruction from the control bar 51. Immediately
upon entering the program a chapter index is set to a
The COUNTER INFO instruction (172) toggles the time
information displayed between elapsed time from the start of
the video clip to the time remaining in the video clip (174).
Optionally, the counter could also display the time since the
predetermined value and a lesson index is also set to a
predetermined value. When the program is run for the ?rst
time, these two indexes are set at one. However, when the
user 49 logged on or the clock time. The counter hide
user 49 continues with a previously started lesson, the
indexes may be automatically set to those of the prior
session.
Each instruction available on the control bar 51 may be
executed by the user 49. The EXIT instruction (110) pro
vides noti?cation of an exit to the DLL via the DLL
instruction (176) toggles the counter display between being
10
communication agent (112), stops the DLL communication
agent (114), and closes all DLL command ?les (116). The
hidden or displayed (178).
The system 10 of the present invention can be easily
implemented with application programs, on-line services, or
any computer application software. The system 10 is generic
and provides a familiar training interface that can be used in
many varied situations. As one skilled in the art will readily
appreciate, the system 10 of the present invention is readily
transportable to provide tutorial instruction in any computer
based system.
The present invention also includes a computerized, mul
EXIT instruction (110) further shuts down the core program
timedia tutorial interface method for training a user to use
(118), closes the control bar 51 window, the chapter/lesson
selection screen window 53, and the video window 55 (120), 20 computer application software. The method is analogous to
the previously described system and is not described to the
same extent. With reference to the FIGURES, the method of
the present invention comprises as a ?rst step displaying a
and ends the training session (122).
Executing the REWIND (RWD) instruction (124) with a
double click causes the current lesson index and the current
control window 51 and 53 on a computer screen 26. As
chapter index, as displayed in the chapter/lesson selection
screen window 53, to index to the ?rst chapter and ?rst 25
lesson (126). Executing the REWIND (RWD) instruction
with a single click causes the current chapter index to
A next step is receiving a user instruction from a user 49.
Once the instruction is received the steps of interpreting the
user instruction to creating an execution instruction are
lesson selection screen 53 and allows the user to select a
plays (130).
received. Once created, the steps of issuing the execution
instruction and receiving the execution instruction are per
formed.
Responsive to the execution instruction, one of three
35
Executing the FAST FORWARD (FF) instruction (132)
with a double click causes the current lesson index and the
And a third step is selectively executing a function of the
computer application software that is described in the audio
visual information.
selection screen window 53, to index to the last chapter and
last lesson (134). Executing the FAST FORWARD (FF)
instruction (132) with a single click causes the current
A ?rrther step is selectively relinquishing control of
chapter index to increment by a single chapter (134).
computer application software to a user. This allows the user
to practice the skills he has learned. A ?nal step includes
45
immediately (138). Executing the BACK instruction (140)
The method of the present invention also preferably
previously viewed video clip again (142). The PAUSE
instruction (144) causes the currently playing video clip, if
includes the steps of monitoring user instructions issued to
computer application software by a user. Another additional
step is issuing an error message to a user on a computer
screen if a user issues an instruction to computer application
software that is erroneous as compared to a list of correct
55
the DLL library and executed within the computer applica
tion software (160). Once the instructions are completed, a
backwards noti?cation is sent (162) so that the control bar 51
_ and the video window 55 are again displayed (164). Next, a
short, written synopsis of the demonstration that was
executed is displayed to the user 49 on the computer screen 65
26 (168). Then, the computer application software interface
means 48 allows the user to practice within the computer
selectively regaining control of the computer application
software from the user.
freezes the current chapter and lesson indexes and plays the
one is playing, to stop for later continuation (146).
The PLAY instruction (148) ?rst causes the chapter
counter to increment (150). The chapter counter indexes the
relevant video clip and DLL instructions. The next video clip
is then played in the video window 55 (152). Then, the
control bar 51 and the video window 55 are hidden and the
DLL instructions may be executed (154). A noti?cation of
play is transmitted to the DLL interface communication
agent (156), the order is received by the DLL interface
communication agent (158), and instructions are read from
separate steps is performed. A ?rst step is selectively retriev
ing audiovisual information responsive to the execution
instruction. A second step is displaying the audiovisual
information on at least a portion of a computer screen 26.
current chapter index, as displayed in the chapter/lesson
Executing the STOP instruction (136) causes the process
that is running when the instruction is executed to stop
ity of instructions to a user 49 that may be selected by the
user.
decrement by a single chapter (126).
Executing the GOTO instruction (128) opens the chapter/
particular chapter and lesson to be indexed (130). Then the
user 49 has the option of playing the video clip or the
demonstration of the particular lesson. Depending upon the
option selected, the video clip plays or the demonstration
previously described, the control window provides a plural~
instructions. Further additional steps are evaluating the
instructions issued to computer application software by a
user and issuing a summary of the user’s performance in
issuing the instructions.
As one skilled in the art will readily appreciate, the
method of the present invention could be used in a wide
variety of systems. Whenever training of a user is required,
the method of the present invention could be employed.
While speci?c applications of this method involve applica
tion programs, the method could also be used with other
computer based services such as on-line services.
The above described preferred embodiments are intended
to illustrate the principles of the invention, but not to limit
the scope of the invention. Various other embodiments and
5,577,186
11
modi?cations to these preferred embodiments may be made
by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope
of the following claims.
1. A computerized, multimedia tutorial interface system
for training a user to use any of a plurality of independently
executable computer application software programs, the
system comprising:
(a) evaluation means for evaluating the user instructions
issued to the instruction input means by a user and for
issuing a summary of the user’s performance in issuing
the user instructions.
(a) computer application program selector, wherein the
application
that is erroneous as compared to expected instructions.
4. The computerized, multimedia training system of claim
1 further comprising:
We claim:
computer
12
issues a user instruction to the instruction input means
5. The computerized, multimedia training system of claim
software program ~ selector 10 1 wherein the control display means comprises a display bar
receives an instruction from a user and causes the
having commands selected from a group of commands
computerized, multimedia tutorial interface system to
select a computer application software program from
including at least exit, rewind, goto, fast forward, stop, back,
pause, and play.
6. The computerized, multimedia training system of claim
the plurality of independently executable computer
application software programs;
(b) control display means for displaying a control window
on a computer screen, the control window providing a
plurality of instructions to a user that may be selected
by the user, wherein the instructions include instruc
tions for displaying audiovisual images describing
operations of the selected computer application soft
ware program;
(c) instruction input means for receiving a user instruction
from a user;
(d) instruction interpretation means for receiving the user
instruction from the instruction input means, for inter
preting the user instruction based upon the selected
computer application software program to generate an
1 wherein the audiovisual information is displayed in a
window on a computer screen adjacent to, and not overlying,
the control window.
7. A computerized, multimedia tutorial interface method
for training a user to use any of a plurality of independently
executable computer application software programs, the
method comprising the steps of:
(a) displaying a list of the plurality of independently
executable computer application software programs to
a user;
(b) receiving a software application program selection
instruction from the user and, based upon the software
execution instruction, and for selectively issuing the
application program selection instruction, selecting an
application software program from the plurality of
execution instruction to element (e), (f) or (g) based
independently executable computer application soft
30
upon the user instruction;
(e) audiovisual enablement means for receiving an execu
tion instruction from the instruction interpretation
means, for selectively retrieving audiovisual informa
tion responsive to the execution instruction, and for
displaying the audiovisual information on at least a 35
portion of a computer screen, wherein the audiovisual
information includes audiovisual images describing
operations of the selected computer application soft
ware program;
(f) computer application software interface means for
receiving an execution instruction from the instruction
interpretation means, for interfacing with the selected
computer application software program, and for issuing
simulated user input to the selected computer applica
ware programs;
(c) displaying a control window on a computer screen, the
control window providing a plurality of instructions to
a user that may be selected by the user, wherein the
instructions include instructions for displaying audio
visual images describing operations of the selected
computer application software program;
'
(d) receiving a user instruction from a user;
(e) based upon the selected computer application software
program, interpreting the user instruction to generate an
execution instruction;
(f) based on the execution instruction and the selected
computer application software program, selectively
retrieving audiovisual information;
tion program to execute a function of the selected
(g) based on the execution instruction, displaying the
computer application software program that is
described in the audiovisual image; and
(g) computer application software control means for
audiovisual information on at least a portion of a
receiving an execution instruction from the instruction
interpretation means, for causing the computerized,
multimedia tutorial interface system to completely
relinquish control to the'computer application software
program to allow a user to execute functions within the
computer application software program, and for caus 55
ing the computerized, multimedia tutorial interface
system to gain control from the computer application
software program based upon user input.
2. The computerized, multimedia training system of claim
1 further comprising:
(a) user instruction monitoring means for monitoring user
instructions issued to the instruction input means by a
user.
3. The computerized, multimedia training system of claim
2 further comprising:
(a) error message issuance means for issuing an error
message to a user on a computer screen if the user
computer screen, wherein the audiovisual information
includes audiovisual images describing operations of
the selected computer application software program;
(h) based on the execution instruction, executing a func-‘
tion of the computer application software program that
is described in the audiovisual information by issuing
simulated user input to the selected computer applica
tion software program;
(i) based on the execution instruction, completely relin
quishing control to the selected computer application
software program to allow a user to execute functions
within the selected computer application software pro
gram; and
6) based on user input, regaining control from the selected
computer application software program.
8. The computerized, multimedia training method of
7 claim 7 further comprising the step of:
(a) monitoring user instructions issued by a user.
9. The computerized, multimedia training method of
claim 8 further comprising the step of:
5,577,186
14
13
(a) issuing an error message to a user on a computer
commands selected from a group of commands including at
screen if a user issues a user instruction that is errone—
least exit, rewind, goto, fast forward, stop, back, pause, and
ous as compared to reference user instructions.
play.
10. The computerized, multimedia training method of
claim 7 further comprising the steps of:
(a) evaluating the user instructions issued by a user; and
(b) based upon the user instructions issued by the user,
issuing a summary of the user’s performance in issuing
12. The computerized, multimedia training method of
claim 7 wherein in the step of displaying the audiovisual
information on at least a portion of a computer screen, the
audiovisual information is displayed in a window on a
computer screen adjacent to, and not overlying, the control
11. The computerized, multimedia training method of 10 Window
claim 7 wherein the step of displaying a control window on
the user instructions.
a computer screen includes displaying on a control bar
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