Usability evaluation of two virtual learning environments used in Qatar-Finland International School

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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The amount of digital educational resources has grown dramatically over the past two decades. Also, the fast development and growth in the number of mobile devices at home and schools has created new possibilities for learning. Thousands of online sites and applications are offering educational resources in different formats and interfaces. In order to make these resources as efficient and useful as possible, developers should gather more information about usability and user experience to build better interfaces. In this research, I will evaluate the usability of the two, modern virtual learning environments (VLEs) used in Qatar- Finland International School. The VLEs are Sanoma Pro and Microsoft Office 365. These particular learning environments were selected by interviewing the users at school. This thesis in a qualitative study and the research methods are semi-structured interviews and a thinking aloud- method. The informants are from three different categories: users (students), super-users (teachers and administration) and experts (usability professionals). The research was carried out in the academic year 2016-2017 and finalised during 2018. As a result, a conclusion can be drawn that especially in Office 365 more emphasis should be put on usability from the student’s and teacher’s point of view. Overall, the complexity of the learning environment makes it relatively hard to use for many unexperienced users. Sanoma Pro material, on the other hand, has taken the users well into consideration but is lacking the possibilities of editing the materials according to the needs of the end-user. It is important to make a careful usability testing before the launching of the material, and take all possible stakeholders in to consideration. According to this research the recommendation is to use three groups in the usability testing of the learning materials: teachers, students and usability experts. In general, developers of the learning resources should take the questions of usability in to careful consideration in order to produce compatible quality materials for effective and long-time use in growing international markets.
Leinonen, Teemu
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usability, virtual learning environment, thinking aloud, heuristic evaluation
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