User Testing and Iterative Design in the Academic Library: A Case Study

User Testing and Iterative Design in the Academic Library: A Case Study

Kris M. Markman (Harvard University, USA), Maura Ferrarini (Harvard University, USA) and Amy H. Deschenes (Harvard University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2639-1.ch008
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This chapter describes the iterative design process used to create a series of information literacy tutorials for an academic library. This case study explains how the various stages of the design process, including setting goals, prototype testing, design refinement, and evaluation, lead to a series of learning objects that are pedagogically sound, user-focused, and engaging. The authors also provide templates and test scripts that can be re-used by scholars and practitioners. The chapter concludes with recommendations for including user testing in the design process for any educational product.
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In this chapter, we present a case study of the development of digital learning objects designed to teach information and research literacy skills. Specifically, we will describe the development process with an emphasis on how iterative design and different testing techniques are employed to produce learning objects that are both engaging and pedagogically sound. We approach this topic from two perspectives: learning design and user-centered design (UCD). As learning designers we are concerned with making high quality, pedagogically sound learning objects that reflect clear, measurable learning objectives. We follow Mestre et al.’s (2011) definition of a learning object as a “reusable instructional resource…developed to support learning” (p. 237). The UCD lens provides tools to help keep the focus on the end user, in this case the learner, not just in terms of content, but also in terms of how the design and function of the learning objects respond to how users naturally engage with the materials (Barnum, 2011; Rubin, Chisnell, & Spool, 2008).

Critically, following UCD principles means that while the design of our learning objects is informed by learning theory, we do not rely on theory alone, nor our own intuitions, to tell us what users want and need. Rather, we draw conclusions based on direct evidence of user behavior and attitudes. Our specific objective for this chapter is to explain how we combine these two perspectives by illustrating the testing process at different stages during the development of digital learning objects. We will demonstrate how this approach improves not only the design and function, but also the content of learning objects. We will conclude by discussing the implications of iterative design for pedagogy, the insights we gained through the process, and recommendations for designers and practitioners.

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