Jakob Nielsen believes web pages should be simple to navigate and intuitively organized. Given our work in the eLearning field, I’m wondering if you have identified other components to consider beyond good interface design?

Yes, not only must the interface be intuitive but it should be based on sound instructional design. Each page should logically follow one to the next. Given that on-line learning, by definition, is missing the on-going cues and context set in a traditional classroom, the learner must always be informed about where they are in the learning process.

Learners want to feel that there is a flow to the learning – that they are making progress so we tend to keep individual pages slim and ensure that all instructions are clear and demonstrative.

What methods have you used to increase learner motivation while engaged in an on-line course?

Simplicity is important. We tend to allow the learner only two or three places to go to on a screen. We don’t believe in overloading the page with content but rather to give them the sense that they are moving forward.

In increasing levels of complexity and engagement…

  • use audio redundantly with the text to help reinforce the content as we believe it helps with learner engagement and retention.
  • use Captivate (a means to capture onscreen activity) to demonstrate a process.
  • engage in &quote;Try me&quote; interactions such as a process or a transaction
  • provide web-conferencing through synchronous learning

What are your fundamental usability standards or protocols in conducting usability testing?

ICBC has its own usability department so under normal circumstances all courses would be reviewed by them, but for the purposes of this interview this is what we are concerned with:

  • Ensuring there is intuitive navigation – that a learner can go through the learning experience easily, and that they can find what they are looking for
  • Testing our own internal consistency – that there is internal consistency to the course, standards in the look and feel of the course including for example, placement of buttons on the screen
  • Analysis of a course element if a learner makes more than 2 – 3 attempts
  • Attempts to break the course by anticipating inappropriate actions
  • Engaging in pre-pilot with target audience members (prior to production)
  • Engaging in pilot test with target audience (post-production)

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