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Usability in eLearning November 25, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In looking back at all the posts I’ve written, I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned usability and usability testing more. Usability testing is a critical process that too often gets skipped due to lack of time and/or resources. I decided to gather some of my favorite resources related to usability and present them here. I hope they save you some time, effort, and money. (And please chime in if you have recommendations!)

But first… Why is usability important in eLearning?

UsabilityFirst.com has a great explanation of why usability is important:

From the user’s perspective usability is important because it can make the difference between performing a task accurately and completely or not, and enjoying the process or being frustrated. From the developer’s perspective usability is important because it can mean the difference between the success or failure of a system. From a management point of view, software with poor usability can reduce the productivity of the workforce to a level of performance worse than without the system. In all cases, lack of usability can cost time and effort, and can greatly determine the success or failure of a system. Given a choice, people will tend to buy systems that are more user-friendly.

A-ha! So if we develop learning materials/solutions that aren’t usable, well, you get the idea. And usability doesn’t just apply to online courses; it applies to job aids, performance support tools, learning 2.0 tools, and pretty much anything else that we introduce to our learners. We should at least take the time to do interviews and small focus groups with actual users before rolling anything out to a mass audience. Thankfully, there are great tools out there to help you take things a step further. Take a look at the resources below. You may want to consider creating a more formal usability testing strategy when deploying learning solutions (if you don’t have one already). Your learners would probably appreciate it. 🙂

Usability Resources