Usability Evaluation of Virtual Learning Environments: A University Case Study

Authors: Vertesi, A., Dogan, H. and Stefanidis, A.

Pages: 161-183

Publisher: Springer, Cham

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-48190-2_9

Virtual learning environments (VLEs) are widely adopted in higher education to facilitate online methods of content delivery for the lecturers, to enable online submission for the students and to provide course management tools for the administration team. There are a variety of software solutions to choose from, modelled according to heterogeneous needs and functionalities. Despite the existence of clear organisational, pedagogical and technological goals, the procurement and implementation of a VLE is a complex task with significant challenges. We present the case study of a university which went through the process of procuring a new VLE. We examine the usability of each VLE utilising the System Usability Scale (SUS) and capture further feedback from the stakeholders by applying the Interactive Management (IM) methodology.

The first part of the research focuses on the three VLEs remaining in contention during the final stages of the procurement process. The results of the usability evaluations are analysed, explained and compared. The second part of the study (Vertesi A, Dogan H, Stefanidis A, Ashton G, Drake W: Usability evaluation of a virtual learning environment: a university case study. In: 15th international Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA), 21–23 October 2018, Budapest, Hungary, 2018) examines the selected and implemented VLE 6 months after its initiation. A usability test was carried out again on this VLE to examine changes since its launching. Additional feedback was collected from the stakeholders to support the fine-tuning process after the implementation. According to the evaluation of each user group, all the three VLEs performed below the average usability expectation. Generally, students evaluated the usability of the VLEs higher than the academics and administration staff. The usability scores of the students’ evaluation from different courses and years show remarkable differences. The ranked and categorised feedback given by the stakeholders highlights the importance of planning, training and communication prior to and during the implementation process. Usability and learnability play important roles according to the feedback.

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