Although the use of learning technology has become the “new norm” in Higher Education, a number of studies have criticised the technologies developed to support it (Marković and Jovanović, 2012). The quality of learning received via technologies such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) often does not meet the expectations of students and teachers, with the usability of VLEs being one of the main factors affecting learning efficacy (Raspopovic et al. 2014). The cost of poor usability is high, with learners left feeling frustrated (Plata and Alado, 2014), unsatisfied and ineffective (Abedour and Smith, 2006). This presentation will describe the results of a Mapping Study that has investigated how the usability of VLEs affects learners and what recommendations for developers and practitioners have been produced.
The Mapping Study followed the guidelines outlined by Kitchenham et al. (2015) and included peer reviewed papers published between 2002 and 2016 that contained the words “usability” and “eLearning” (and their synonyms) in their title. Inclusion criteria included whether the paper described a usability study of a VLE in a University and whether the study’s outcomes were included.
193 papers were found and after considering the inclusion and exclusion criteria, this was reduced to 70. Data was then extracted from each paper such as the VLE platform tested; usability attributes studied; participant information; specific usability problems found and general recommendations.
Preliminary results have identified that the memorability and learnability of VLEs are important factors that can affect their success and continued use. However, there seems to be little previous research in comparison to other usability quality metrics such as effectiveness, satisfaction and efficiency. Recommendations include the importance of taking into account prior experience of online learning and that “negative critical incidents” and attitude play a significant role in continued use of a VLE.
This presentation will focus on the methodology chosen for the Mapping Study and include some initial conclusions related to memorability and how easy a system is to learn over time.
Aberdour, M. and Smith, R. (2006). Usability in e-learning. Online: http://www.epic.co.uk/content/resources/white_papers/pdf_versions/Development/Epic_White_Paper_Us ability.pdf (accessed 19.09.08)
Kitchenham, B. A., Budgen, D., & Brereton, P. (2015). Evidence-Based Software Engineering and Systematic Reviews (Vol. 4). CRC Press.
Marković, S., & Jovanović, N. (2012). Learning style as a factor which affects the quality of e-learning. Artificial Intelligence Review, 38(4), pp.303–312.
Plata, I. & Alado, D. (2014). Evaluating the Perceived Usability of Virtual Learning Environment in Teaching ICT Courses. Globalilluminators.Org, 1(2009), pp.63–76.
Raspopovic, M., Jankulovic, A., Runic, J., & Lucic, V. (2014). Success factors for e-learning in a developing country: A case study of Serbia. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(3), pp.1–23.