This journal entry reports a usability test for the module. The aim was to assess the usability of this module through having test participants complete a set of tasks. I sought to understand how users used this module.
I invited two college students/friends to participate in the test, following the internship programme instruction. Both volunteers/participants were current graduate students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. For convenience, these participants used my computer in two rounds of testing. These participants were familiar with the Blackboard learning management system. Also, since both of them were in the Instructional Technology field, they provided me additional feedback as reviewers of my module design after the usability test.
I, as the evaluation, observer, experimenter, and note-taker, created a set of three tasks ahead of time that the participant users would try to perform, based on reasonable use of the module being tested. These associated tasks were realistic ones that typical Blackboard users would usually do while using the module. The three tasks were all simple “find” tasks. Task 1 asked the subject to find the requirements for passing this module. Task 2 asked the subject to find assignment for Week 3. Task 3 asked the subject to find the author’s contact information. The estimated completion time for each task was less than three minutes.
The participants were asked to say where they were doing as they were doing it. Also, they were asked to elaborate on any problems they were having. I presented the three tasks to each user and watched them go through the tasks. In the meanwhile, I took notes of the participants’ behavior and their comments. I recorded the time it took for the users to complete each task. The two participants completed the tasks in an average time of 5 minutes. They both finished the test within the estimated time frame. All three tasks were by no means difficult for either participant. However, both participants, as instructional designers, identified certain design concerns of the module.
Challenges: 1. Participant #1 reported that when she clicked into “Schedule”, she naturally clicked on the “weeks”, only to find that those listed weeks were not clickable. 2. Participant #2 made suggestions of adding rubrics to the assignments. 3. Participant #2 made suggestions of adding a “Welcome” page to the module. 4. Participant #2 pointed out that the word “Below” was mistakenly used at the bottom of the “Handbook” page, while the content referred to was actually on a different page.
Solutions: 1. I now have linked the content of each week to the weeks in the “Schedule” section, in order to avoid such confusion. 2. I added rubrics to the assignments. 3. I took participant’s advice and made attempts to add a separate “Welcome” page. However, after testing, I soon realized that the very first page students see after logging into their module is always the “Announcements.” I then moved the “Welcome” content into the “Announcements.” 4. I removed the use of “Below” in “Handbook” and reworded the sentence accordingly.
In summary, this usability test was conducted using direct observation methods, along with loosely-structured interviews with further questions regarding the usability and acceptability of the module design. Necessary changes were made to the module based on the users’ task performance, comments, and feedback from the test.