Monday, March 21, 2011

What are learners looking at in Moodle?

Today I came across a paper by Gergely Rakoczi from the Vienna University of Technology. The paper investigated what students look at on the Moodle User Interface using eye tracking technology.

First thing to say about the paper is that I found it great that this kind of work is going on. Second thing to say is that the study was quite limited in that it addressed only a vanilla Moodle instance (how many production moodles out there use the vanilla styling?) and the sample was tiny - 10 people. In assessing something as complex and with as much variance as a LMS the sample size would have to be a multiple of this sample size before we would be able to derive any interesting conclusions. Anyway here is some of the key findings:
Hide Functionality
  • How do students navigate - many participants uses the breadcrumbs and the "my courses" block, but the majority are still going for the trusty browser back button.
  • How do I logout - A lot of participants had difficulty finding the logout button initially - surprising because its in a pretty standard position - top left. The author equates this difficulty to the fact that the user's name (which links to the profile page) is beside the logout button.
  • Confusion over the hide functionality - the study found that there is a lot of confusion with new users with regard to the hide topic/week functionality. This is presented as a white box to the user. I have to agree with the authors here. The presentation of this functionality is poor. A lot of people thought the box was for checking off when a topic is done. Well thats kind of what the white box infers. I think we need to rethink this icon.
The author goes into detail on how to create eye-catching material. These guidelines are pretty general and I am not sure how it relates to the findings in the paper.

The paper was a nice light read - I look forward to the next installment with a much larger sample size and some statistical analysis - please!

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