The outline of the presentation is as follows:
iii. Discussion of results
iv. Conclusion and Recommendations
This presentation is based on a qualitative study that revealed the central role played by navigability in the user experience of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in Higher Education. It identifies the challenges that users face as a result of poor navigation in VLEs and offers solutions on how these challenges can be resolved in order to enhance the user experience.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
We present a study involving a diverse group of virtual learning environment (VLE) users in a UK University. The study revealed that navigability is critical to user experience both with students and staff.
Transcripts from interviews with students, teaching staff, administrative staff, directors of studies and a member of the e-learning team were analysed according to the classic grounded theory (Holton & Walsh, 2017) methodological approach. The study identified that users have difficulties with finding materials and tools on the VLE due to poor navigation mechanisms inherent in the VLE. Some of the users complained of not knowing where to find certain things or things not being where they expected them to be. They preferred direct access rather than having to perform several clicks in order to locate features on the VLE.
Kear (2007) noted that “it is important that VLEs have straightforward navigation, use clear terminology, and are based on structures and processes that make sense to students.” Though the results are similar, Kear’s work spanned four different universities and four VLEs, but only involved lecturers, while the study presented here was in a single university based on a single VLE but with a mixed group of students, teaching staff, administrative staff, directors of studies and the e-learning team. This has extended the work of Kear by not only confirming directly from students that navigation is an issue but that students also experience navigation problems based on how teaching staff use the VLE. It further revealed that staff experienced more navigation challenges owing to their roles as content creators.
This presentation which falls under the conference theme “Critical perspectives in Learning Technology”, challenges the modus operandi of focussing on what the deployment of technology in Higher Education can do for the users without necessarily taking into consideration how the various users will use the system. (Beckton, 2009). This study offers some recommendations on how the configuration of a VLE can be enhanced in order to enrich the experience of the users, be they students, teaching staff or administrative staff. This presentation will be of interest to participants who are enthusiastic about improving the user experience of VLEs.
 Beckton, J. 2009. Lumping and Splitting. Rolling out a new VLE at the University of Lincoln, e-Learning: A Reality Check-Do We Practice What We Preach? Available at: http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/1756/1/LumpandSplit_dur09.pdf. [Accessed 23rd August 2015].
 Holton, J. and Walsh, I. 2017. Classic Grounded Theory: Applications with Qualitative and Quantitative Data.London: SAGE Publications.
 Kear, K. 2007. Communication Aspects of Virtual Learning Environments: Perspectives of Early Adopters. In: ED-MEDIA 2007, 25-29 June 2007, Vancouver, Canada.