2009 Canadian e-Learning Conference Program

“I’ve Now Realized the Vital Importance of Being [Usable]” (Wilde, 1895): A Usability Analysis of Moodle

Session Title: “I’ve Now Realized the Vital Importance of Being [Usable]” (Wilde, 1895): A Usability Analysis of Moodle

Time & Date: 12:40 P.M. – 1:55 P.M., Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Location: Student Union Building (SUB) Partyroom

Session Descriptions: This study analyzed the usability of Moodle, an open-source online learning platform (course management system) that allows teachers and students to conduct and participate in e-classrooms. Usability analyses are a common research method employed by human factors practitioners to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a system by systematically observing users and the system in context. This includes how users normally interact with the system as they perform typical tasks, to see where system interface modifications are implicated or how training on the system might be improved.

This study focused on one of Moodle’s major user groups: undergraduate students with limited Moodle experience. We performed a usability analysis to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Moodle interface. In the study, undergraduate participants were first taught some basic principles of good software interface design (e.g., using simple, visually uncluttered interface layouts, providing timely feedback, limiting user error). Next, using a “think out- loud” protocol, participants worked through a series of task-based scenarios using a functioning Moodle course site. A sample of the 13 tasks included: logging into the course website, completing a quiz and starting a forum post. For each task, participants’ comments were recorded, and an evaluation survey was completed. Based on the participants’ feedback, we highlight the strengths of the Moodle system and make several recommendations for improving the Moodle interface and the training novice Moodle users should receive. This study is timely given Moodle’s growing popularity, the current lack of Moodle usability research and the complexity of interface design.

Conference Stream: Research

Session Format: Poster

Co-Presenter: Thomas Kerslake

Thomas Kerslake is his parents’ fault. He is icing his BAA Psychology cake with an honours thesis supervised by Kevin Hamilton and Richard Le Grand.

Co-Presenter: Richard LeGrand

Kevin Hamilton

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