The Usability of E-Learning Platforms at the University of Southern Denmark

The Usability of E-Learning Platforms at the University of Southern Denmark

Role

UX Designer

Responsibilities

User Research, Usability Testing

Tools

Miro

Timespan

12 weeks

Tip: Key terms are highlighted to enhance your readability and scanability experience.

Overview

Learning management systems (LMS) are indispensable in facilitating e-learning. The students' user experience and the ease of navigating these platforms have become pivotal factors in ensuring a fulfilling and effective learning journey.

With the University of Southern Denmark transitioning from Blackboard to itsLearning, an evaluation between these e-learning platforms becomes crucial.

By evaluating these platforms, a deeper insight can be gained into the students' satisfaction, ease-of-use and their overall learning journey.

SDU's E-Learning Usability Study UX Case Study Overview

Problem

The former e-learning platform, Blackboard, was widely criticized among University of Southern Denmark students for its poor user experience and inadequate usability.

This research study aimed to assess the alignment of e-learning usability guidelines with student satisfaction regarding these platforms. Furthermore, the study sought to determine whether the newly adopted platform, itsLearning, meets these expectations.

The central question driving this study was: Does itsLearning, the new learning management system, offer a more satisfactory user experience compared to its predecessor?

Process

To address the problem, two research methods were employed.

Firstly, a quantitative approach made use of a comprehensive questionnaire to gather detailed insights into students' experiences with both the former and new e-learning platforms.

Secondly, a qualitative method, specifically a usability study involved students engaging in thinking-aloud exercises while navigating predefined journeys on itsLearning.

The results were then evaluated against Jakob Nielsen's usability heuristics and design principles.

01 The questionnaire

The study utilized the Likert scale, a commonly employed bipolar assessment tool within survey questionnaires.

This scale comprises a five (or seven) points scale, enabling students to express the extent of their satisfaction with the elearning platforms.

The Likert Scale Visualisation

The Likert Scale

Results

The survey findings indicated that Blackboard's usability averaged a score of 1.9 on the Likert scale, while itsLearning received an average score of 3.

A more detailed scoring table can be found below, based on Nielsen's seven usability principles.

Blackboard Usability Questionnaire Score Results

Blackboard Usability Questionnaire Score Results

ItsLearning Usability Questionnaire Score Results

ItsLearning Usability Questionnaire Score Results

From the questionnaire data, it can be concluded that itsLearning is an overall improvement over Blackboard's usability for the students at University of Southern Denmark.

The transition from Blackboard to itsLearning has increased the overall usability satisfaction by 22% of the maximum possible satisfaction, or a 57% improvement upon the last platform’s, Blackboard, usability score.

02 Usability testing

In order to verify the usability score in the survey, a set of usability tests were conducted for the newly adopted e-learning platform, itsLearning.

Three primary methods were employed for usability testing information gathering:

  1. Think-aloud protocol: This method involved users verbalizing their thoughts and actions while navigating through the itsLearning platform. It provided valuable insights into their decision-making process, challenges faced, and overall experiences, offering direct feedback on usability.
  2. Time/Error log: This data set recorded the time taken by users to complete specific tasks on the itsLearning platform and tracked any encountered errors. Analyzing these logs helped identify usability issues, understand task efficiency, and pinpoint areas requiring improvement.
  3. Interview data: Conducted after usability testing, interviews gathered qualitative feedback from users about their overall experience with itsLearning. This provided deeper insights into user preferences, frustrations, and additional usability considerations.

Results

The survey findings indicated that Blackboard's usability averaged a score of 1.9 on the Likert scale, while itsLearning received an average score of 3.

Below is a table illustrating the average time taken by students to complete tasks on the itsLearning platform.

ItsLearning Usability Testing Time Results

ItsLearning Usability Testing Time Results

In certain categories, time data is unavailable as some users were unable to complete specific tasks during testing.

The completion rate for usability testing stood at 70% out of 100%.

Following the conclusion of usability testing, participants engaged in interviews where they were requested to evaluate the overall user experience of the newly implemented e-learning platform.

Their assessment resulted in a 60% approval rating for the itsLearning experience, out of 100%.

Conclusion

The primary aim of this study was to assess whether the migration to the new e-learning management system, itsLearning, resulted in an enhanced usability experience for University of Southern Denmark students.

Initial findings from the questionnaire indicated an improvement in the overall usability and user experience among students. These results were further corroborated by the subsequent usability tests conducted.

The transition to the itsLearning platform led to a 22% increase in overall usability satisfaction, representing a 57% enhancement compared to the previous platform, Blackboard.

However, despite this progress, itsLearning received an average usability rating of 3 on the Likert scale, significantly below the maximum score of 5. This suggests the necessity for additional enhancements to ensure a more satisfying usability and overall user experience for the students at University of Southern Denmark.

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