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Usability Testing: Moodle

Exploring effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction

As part of a qualitative research methods course for UXR, I conducted usability testing on the Moodle platform, using a concurrent think-aloud protocol.

Moodle is an open-source CMS platform that serves as the primary E-learning platform in academia in Israel, facilitating educational content delivery and communication between academic staff and students.

This case study outlines the planning, execution, and analysis aimed at identifying friction points within the interface and information architecture. 

Moodle-logo.svg.png

Goals &
Objectives

  • Understand how users interact with Moodle.

  • Identify pain points users encounter while navigating the platform.

  • Evaluate users' ability to access assignment details and grades.

Test Plan & Methodology

Method

Qualitative,
In-person
Moderated

Focus

Task-Based

Duration

Two weeks

Data collection tools

Photos, notes, and screen recordings

Evaluation parameters

effectiveness
efficiency
satisfaction

Research
questions

  • What are users' pain points when navigating inside Moodle?

  • How do users get to know their assignments and submissions deadlines?

  • How do users get to know their grades?

Screening questions & consent forms

Screening questions and consent forms​ were developed to confirm eligibility and alignment with the study objectives.

For example:

"Are you an active student?"

"Do you speak Hebrew and/or English?"

"Are you currently working as academic or administrative staff in the university?"

Participants background

sample

convenience sampling

demographics

5 participants,
aged 26-30

Language

Speaks Hebrew and/or English

occupation

Active students - BA or MA

Tasks

1# Task

"It is the middle of the semester and you want to update yourself on all upcoming assignments and submissions, including deadlines.

Try to understand what are your next submissions and due dates."

2# Task

"The semester is about to finish and you want to see your grades.

Check for your grades."

3# Task

During the tests a task about the interface's language was added, after realizing this is a crucial aspect of usability for non-native Hebrew speakers.

Parameters for evaluation

Effectiveness

Can users find the information without errors/mistakes?

Are they able to find all the information they need?

Efficiency

Can users complete the task within a reasonable amount of mental effort and time?

Do they understand the navigation path?

Satisfaction

Can users complete their tasks with minimum amount of discomfort, frustration, and confusion?

Analysis &
Results

  • Participants demonstrated varied approaches to navigating Moodle, with the most common one being "trial-and-error". More efficient approaches involved relying on memory or experience.

  • Language settings significantly impacted user satisfaction, particularly for non-native Hebrew speakers.

  • Non-verbal cues included: random clicking, searching but not looking, moving uncomfortably.

  • Despite challenges (and frustration), eventually all participants successfully completed the assigned tasks.

To my surprise, seniority did not affect how users interacted with Moodle - Both new-users and experienced users demonstrated similar attitudes in regard to effectiveness and efficiency when using Moodle.

Recommendations

  1. Consistency: Standardize the location of tasks, submissions, and grades across course pages for a more consistent user experience.

  2. Discoverability: Enhance discoverability of important features like the calendar and grades to reduce user frustration.

  3. Navigation Paths: Redefine navigation paths, especially for common tasks such as accessing grades and assignments.

  4. Language Settings: Prioritize language settings within the main dashboard for easier access.

  5. Onboarding Processes: Implement user onboarding sessions to enhance user awareness of platform features, and improve system feedback to aid user understanding.

Conclusion

The usability test revealed insights into how students interact with Moodle, highlighting challenges in navigation and feature accessibility. Despite varying levels of expertise, users encountered similar frustrations, emphasizing the need for platform improvements. Addressing recommendations such as enhancing consistency, improving discoverability, and refining navigation paths will not only enhance the overall user experience but also contribute to improving effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction for all students interacting with Moodle.

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