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‘Yeah, this is an exercise I would skip’: What makes an academic writing online resource usable and relevant?

This presentation discusses the e-learning approach adopted by Libraries and Learning Services at the University of Auckland to facilitate first-year students’ transition into university writing. The presenters will report on the results of the usability testing of an online resource designed to promote students’ understanding of university academic writing expectations and requirements. The presenters will discuss the procedures and measures used during usability testing and the results identified during data analysis. The factors facilitating and hindering students’ interaction with the resource content will be outlined. The implications of adopting an evidence-based approach to usability testing of e-learning resources will also be highlighted.

Sub-theme: Innovation in Learning and Teaching

‘Yeah, this is an exercise I would skip’: What makes an academic writing online resource usable and relevant?

The design of e-learning resources to support students’ development of academic literacy skills is becoming increasingly common in higher education institutions. Technology is being used on the grounds that it can afford new opportunities for learning and provide greater access to knowledge and flexibility. Consequently, rigorous usability testing of e-learning interventions is important since students may be less motivated to use resources they find irrelevant, difficult to use or visually unappealing. Conducting systematic usability testing during the development of a resource can help designers to identify and overcome potential barriers to effective e-learning design (Sandars & Lafferty, 2010) and therefore ensure maximum educational impact (Davids et al., 2011).

This presentation reports on the implementation of an evidence-based approach to usability testing of an online resource designed by Libraries and Learning Services at the University of Auckland to facilitate first-year students’ transition into university writing. The presenters will discuss the purpose and format of the resource, the procedures and measures used during usability testing, and the results identified during data analysis. The factors facilitating and hindering students’ interaction with the content and students’ perceptions about the relevance of the resource will particularly be highlighted. The implications of adopting an evidence-based approach to usability testing of e-learning resources will also be outlined.

References
Davids M.R., Chikte U.M., & Halperin M.L. (2011). Development and evaluation of a multimedia e-learning resource for electrolyte and acid-base disorders, Adv Physiol Educ, 35(3), 295-306.

Sandars J, Lafferty N. (2010). Twelve tips on usability testing to develop effective e-learning in medical education, Med Teach, 32, 956–960.