Improving student experiences in Learn
Usability testing showcase and workshop
“The School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences have used its own standardised Learn template for a few years now. We were happy to see the usability test show that students found it easy and intuitive to navigate, and the feedback we received was positive and constructive. The workshop provided some useful action points to help us move forward and fine-tune the template.”
The School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences (PPLS) have used its own standardised Learn template for a few years now and took the opportunity to volunteer for the usability testing program that the Learn Foundations project are running. These sessions showcase some of the highly-rated Learn environments throughout the University, as well as demonstrating how easy it is to improve them further through usability testing.
The usability testing for PPLS took place during March. Five students took part in the testing, two first year PPLS students, two second year PPLS students (both already familiar with the Knowledge and Reality course) and one fourth year Informatics student. The students were presented with the following scenario and four tasks to complete. A copy of the Learn course Knowledge and Reality, was used for testing purposes.
On the 29th March, IS User Experience (UX) Service, in partnership with the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences showcased the results of usability testing. People from across the University attended to watch the videos and collaboratively prioritise the usability issues. The session uncovered what’s working and not working for students and staff in the Learn course and ended with a prioritised to-do list of usability issues to fix.
The usability testing script has been developed in collaboration between PPLS, the Learn Foundations project and the User Experience Service.
You’re in your 2nd year, and one of the courses you’re studying is called Knowledge and Reality. You are about to submit your midterm essay, and you need to access some resources in Learn to help you do that.
Finding lecture notes
You remember a lecture by Dr Bryan Pickel on essentialism about a month ago where you talked about how Socrates could have been a carpenter but couldn’t have been a poached egg. The lecture notes contained a good quote about how Aristotle couldn’t have been a centipede. You’d like to follow up on it, but you don’t remember which philosopher it was by. Can you find that out?
Solution: Penelope Mackie, mentioned on slide 7 of lecture 11.
Finding a reading in a resource list
That sounds like an interesting topic to write about in your essay, and you’d like to follow up on that quote. Find the text it is from on the reading list and see if you could get a copy of it from the library.
Solution: Penelope Mackie, How Things Might Have Been. Week 4 Contemporary Readings. Accessible as an e-book.
Submitting an assignment
Fast forward and – hurrah! – you have written your essay. Your final draft is on the desktop, in a file called ‘essay’. But you are finished with just an hour to spare before the deadline and now need to submit it quickly. Go to the page and submit it now, making sure you do everything properly.
Solution: Take a file titled ‘essay’, rename it with their exam number, and submit.
Accessing past exam papers
Now that you’re done with the essay, you’re starting to think about preparing for the exam. You know that you can get access to past exam papers for this course – how would you go about finding them?
Solution: go to the Student Hub -> Assignments and click on the Past Exam papers database link.
Collaborative prioritisation of issues
Approximately 20 people from across the University attended to watch the videos and collaboratively prioritise the usability issues, using the red route prioritisation flowchart.
The identified usability issues are as follows:-
- Difficult to identify the right file in the list of lecture slides.
- Difficult to figure out the correct week heading under which to look for the reading in the Resource List.
- It’s not clear where to find past papers.
- Lengthy loading time of the Resource List is frustrating and confusing users.
- Difficult to identify the right assignment submission link.
- Submission box is in a different part of the page to the associated own work declaration.
- The gif showing the file naming convention is in a separate place to the submission box, causing users to have to flip between tabs.
- Difficult to navigate through a large Resource List.
- No-one used the breadcrumbs in Learn.
- Difficult to find past papers in the Student Hub.
- Student took a screenshot of submission, suggesting a lack of trust in the submission process.
The image above shows the prioritisation of issues raised during the workshop.
The impact/effort matrix was created after the workshop to identify the major issues that have an easily implemented solution (the quick wins). There is a proposed solution listed below each issue raised.
The image above shows the impact/effort matrix created after the workshop.
The main points to take away from this exercise were:
- To make it easier to find lecture notes, the course material folders should have clear titles. For accessibility, instead of ‘Week 1, Lecture 1’ consider ‘Lecture 1 – Lecture title – date of lecture’.
- Don’t overload the resource list and structure the list with clear labelling.
- To make it easier to submit an assignment, in courses with many assignments, use separate folder for each submission box.
- The students by passed Learn and looked for past exam papers using Google search.
- Where possible, be consistent with terminology across courses, for example, ‘Course material’ instead of ‘Lecture notes’.
I really enjoyed working with Duncan Stephen and we were happy to see the usability test show that students found it easy and intuitive to navigate, and the feedback we received was positive and constructive. The workshop provided some useful action points to help us move forward and fine-tune the template.