E-Learning Systems Requirements Elicitation: Perspectives and Considerations

E-Learning Systems Requirements Elicitation: Perspectives and Considerations

Shaikha B. AlKhuder (Kuwait University, Kuwait City, Kuwait) and Fatma H. AlAli (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJVPLE.2017010104
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Abstract

Training and education have evolved far beyond black boards and chalk boxes. The environment of knowledge exchange requires more than simple materials and assessments. This article is an attempt of parsing through the different aspects of e-learning, understanding the real needs, and conducting the right requirements to build the appropriate e-learning system. E-learning systems, unlike the normally developed systems, have variable customers and on-going demands. It is not the easiest task to elicit unambiguous functional and non-functional requirements for such systems. However, a brief exploration of some of the e-learning characteristics may tremendously decrease the difficulty of prioritizing the most important requirements.
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The Definition Of E-Learning

Figure 1 shows the average appearance of an e-learning interface to deliver a topic of mathematics. To get a hold of the right e-learning requirements, it is of value and importance to first understand what is “E-learning” and what kind of tools and facilities gives shape to that concept. E-learning, as described by Khan (Khan, 2005), is “an innovative approach for delivering well-designed, learner-centered, interactive, and facilitated learning environment to everyone, anyplace, anytime by utilizing the attributes and resources of various digital technologies along with other forms of e-learning materials suited for open, flexible, and distributed learning environment”. This paper addresses e-learning systems that can be part of the education process in middle/high schools or universities. It can also be for training centers that aim to supply online training for its customers regardless of their place and time.

The majority of training and educational organizations from different types of local schools to global universities, are already accepting e-learning strategies into their educational infrastructure. Yet, there are other entities in the educational field who are still tied down to the physical and spatial limitations of the real classroom in the education and learning processes. They may still prefer the conventional ways of teaching over expanding through web platforms. Their reluctance is caused by their uncertainty that the proposed advanced e-learning tools will “fit” their needs. Moreover, they might be even concerned about the system violating their set of policies, health of their students, adaption of their staff and management crew, their annual cost and maintenance, or simply, they are just not sure that the e-learning system will be up to the right requirements for conveying educational development adequately (Hashim et al., 2014).

This is when eliciting requirements for e-learning systems gains higher importance and plays an undeniable role in constructing the e-learning system that the customer was looking forward to. The health of students mentioned here as a concern is due to considering exposing eye-sight to screen for extended time periods rather than dealing with conventional printed text, and it also includes neck or back posture preserve whilst using tablets or desktops during learning hours. There are too many of e-learning requirements affecting factors to cover in one paper of research, so four of them will be focused on in this paper; such as:

  • E-learning best user interface (UI) design requirements;

  • E-learning teaching methods requirements;

  • E-leaning social communication requirements;

  • The requirements for creating the most suitable e-learning environments.

These points of interests were chosen as pivots of discussion due to the value they hold for designers, stakeholders, and users. They are easily affected by the origin of users, their age and interests, laws and regulations of the country, religion and beliefs, and available resources. For each of these considerations, a moderate analysis will be presented to show practices of requirements understanding and elicitation.

Figure 1.

Sample of algebra learning website (MathAid Algebra, 2013)

This paper's contribution is summarized through:

  • Emphasizing the importance of eliciting valid requirements for e-learning systems;

  • Discussing common factors that affect eliciting requirements for e-learning systems’ users;

  • A brief overview of two e-learning systems used in academic environments;

  • Suggesting an approach for eliciting e-learning systems requirements.

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