A usability study of the platform e-planea from the University of Colima in Mexico is presented. This system allows the gathering of relevant information regarding the institutional management indicators. The usability evaluation focuses on three modules of the platform: Annual Reports, Undergraduate Statistics and High School Statistics. The study consists of two evaluation phases: the first one used a heuristic evaluation, and the second one applied the System Usability Scale (SUS) and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). The results showed high user satisfaction.
Setting The Stage
Many efforts to optimize the quality of data and available information to improve the educational system and support decision-making have occurred for a long time in the University of Colima. The EMIS began with the rise of systems programming in the 80's with projects in many countries to compute the annual school census and other administrative routines (Cassidy, 2006).
There are evidences that the education planning allows a solid structure to expedite the establishment of goals and priorities, facilitates the creation of guidelines for the expansion of the educational system and prevents the neglect or misuse of resources (International Institute for Educational Planning, 2010).
The development of an EMIS has benefited the DGPDI, allowing this department to achieve the educational targets such as increase enrollment, decrease dropout rate and increase student academic performance with a rigorous monitoring and evaluation system. Like any software, the platform needs to follow the usability guidelines and have a high acceptance of use in order to avoid errors and changes with high cost in time and money.
Usability testing involves observing users as they perform a series of tasks intended to address specific functions or portions of a system in order to determine strengths and problems with the software. Another kind of usability test is the heuristic evaluation; this test was designed to find interface design problems and is performed by experts on usability who tested and judged the interface with the 10 heuristics of Nielsen (Nielsen & Molich, 1990). On the other hand, acceptance of use is responsible for evaluating the characteristics that affect the possibility that users prefer to use our software to perform their task or otherwise.
This research work was conducted by researchers at the Schools of Telematics and Pedagogy of the University of Colima, with research experience concerning learning technology, with a focus on human factors, and one undergraduate student doing her BA dissertation on the human-computer interaction laboratory of the School of Telematics (IHCLab).