Usability in the Context of e-Learning: A Framework Augmenting ‘Traditional’ Usability Constructs with Instructional Design and Motivation to Learn

Usability in the Context of e-Learning: A Framework Augmenting ‘Traditional’ Usability Constructs with Instructional Design and Motivation to Learn

Panagiotis Zaharias (University of Cyprus, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-575-9.ch006
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Abstract

The issue of e-learning quality remains prominent on end users’ (the learners’) agenda. It is no surprise that many non-motivated adult learners abandon prematurely their e-learning experiences. This is attributed in a great extent to the poor design and usability of e-learning applications. This paper proposes a usability framework that addresses the user as a learner and extends the current e-learning usability practice by focusing on the affective dimension of learning, a frequently neglected issue in e-learning developments. Motivation to learn, a dominant affective factor related with learning effectiveness, has been similarly neglected. Usability and instructional design constructs as well as Keller’s ARCS Model are being employed within the framework proposed in this work upon which new usability evaluation methods can be based. This framework integrates web usability and instructional design parameters and proposes motivation to learn as a new type of usability dimension in designing and evaluating e-learning applications.
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New Developments In Human Computer Interaction: The Role Of Affect

New developments in Human-Computer Interaction are characterized by the increased focus on design approaches driven by the increasing heterogeneity of the user population, the decreasing tolerance of user frustration, the diversification of their needs and tasks, their idiosyncratic characteristics and reactions and their changing needs (Hudlicka, 2003). The user is in the center of the process and his/her needs drive the nature of the interface and the function allocation of tasks between the user and the machine. In addition, regarding the web and its applications, the need for more usable systems is becoming a necessity since an increasingly large proportion of the population with less computer expertise is using the web (Nielsen, 2000). These concerns are also valid for the widespread use and adoption of e-learning (in this work the focus is on web-based learning).

As Hudlicka (2003) points out, a major component of these emerging requirements and of effective HCI in general is the ability of these emerging systems to address user affect. It is critical that systems designers assess the range of possible affective states that users may experience while interacting with the system. This summarizes the main broad aim of the affective HCI. Some important research questions that researchers should be addressing in the affective HCI field include the following (Hudlicka, 2003):

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