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The student online experience: Getting to the crUX of it

Summary

Students come to university to learn, but before they can they need to master a myriad of systems that make up the university online experience.  Time spent solely on working out how to navigate this environment to find information, access support and complete tasks creates a cognitive load not contributing to the education and learning a student wants!

Taking a holistic look at a student online experience highlights multiple frustrations and opportunities to apply User Experience (UX) principles for maximum impact. This presentation will demonstrate how USQ identified, invested and started their journey toward an improved UX for our students.

Abstract

The higher education sector is becoming increasingly dynamic, competitive and accessible online. Students who study online also live online, and as such their expectations are not surprisingly influenced by their experience in other facets of their life – social media, retail outlets, banks and governments all do business online and invest heavily in making this experience as pleasurable (and functional) as possible.

A student’s online learning journey is multi-faceted as students move through numerous systems and environments to fulfil the many tasks associated with their learning, administration, personal and social activities at university.

Obstructions, dead-ends, unexpected pages, and just plain weird system behaviour result in a negative UX experience that accumulates over time and leaves students focussing less and less on learning and more on trying to work out how to be an online student.

Stepping back and looking holistically at the impact incremental design and functionality changes across multiple systems has had over time, USQ identified a way to invest in and embed UX principles across the university.
This presentation explores the impact inconsistent UX across an institution has on learning and the top-down/bottom-up approach USQ has taken to address it.