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Developing A Standard Student Interface For Online Courses Through Usability Studies

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Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Using Classroom Technologies

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

14.445.1 - 14.445.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/5737

Download Count

20

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Paper Authors

author page

Renée Butler

author page

Christina Scherrer

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing a Standard Student Interface for Online Courses through Usability Studies

Abstract – In recent years there has been significant growth in the popularity and offering of online education. Due to limited availability of instructional designers and development resources, faculty are often called upon to develop the content, learning strategies, and user interface for online curses. Since faculty are typically not trained in instructional design or web design this approach can lead to frustration by the students and faculty, lower retention rates, and consume faculty time answering logistical questions about the course. The purpose of this research is to study the usability of online course interfaces and characterize the key factors that increase satisfaction and reduce frustration of students with the logistics of online courses. To accomplish this goal, we assess interfaces for online courses currently used across several different disciplines. Based on initial finding, we created course interface prototypes and performed usability studies with current students.

Keywords: Distance learning, Online learning, E-learning, User-centered design, Usability

Introduction

In recent years there has been significant growth in the popularity and offering of online education. Due to limited availability of instructional designers and development resources, faculty are often called upon to develop the content, learning strategies, and user interface for online courses. Since faculty are typically not trained in instructional design or web design this approach can lead to frustration by the students and faculty, lower retention rates, and consume faculty time answering students’ logistical questions about the course. The purpose of this research is to study the usability of various online interfaces and characterize the key factors that increase satisfaction and reduce frustration of students with the logistics of online courses.

To accomplish this goal, we assess current student interfaces in a Course Management System for online courses currently used across several different disciplines at our university. Significant differences were found in the current student interfaces in terms of the density of information, arrangement of information, and naming conventions used. We then created student interface prototypes and performed usability studies with current and prospective students. The study focused on evaluating students completing common tasks for a course, such as finding the syllabus, completing a simple assignment, and accessing an exam. A series of prototypes and testing were used to develop a final template with common naming conventions, headings for navigation help, and consistent access paths.

Background

In early online course development, generally a few interested faculty members at a given university began putting their courses online. Often working alone, online faculty became a “jack-of-all-trades” creating content, developing online pedagogy, and developing course websites.7 There was then an upstart in research into online pedagogy and online instructional

Butler, R., & Scherrer, C. (2009, June), Developing A Standard Student Interface For Online Courses Through Usability Studies Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5737

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