Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implications of usability and learnability in learning management systems (LMS) by considering the experiences of information and communications technology (ICT) experts and non‐experts in using the LMS of an open‐distance university. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses task‐based usability testing augmented by eye tracking, post‐test questionnaires and interviews; and data captured by video recordings, eye tracking, post‐test questionnaires and interviews. Findings – Usability is critical in LMS where students’ ICT skills vary. The learnability of the LMS was high and providing assistance for first‐time users to get past the critical errors, rather than redesigning systems to accommodate low ICT skills, should be considered. Designing an LMS for novices may lead to a less efficient design for regular users. Research limitations/implications – Usability testing is limited to the LMS of one open‐distance university. ICT skills are identified as a determinant of LMS usability. Practical implications – This paper highlights the effect of ICT skills on the usability of LMSs and eventually learning. ICT skills may be an important factor in inhibiting the learning of students from developing communities. If ICT literacy is not recognised and dealt with, the lack of ICT skills may undermine the efforts to use e‐learning in bridging the digital divide. Originality/value – The effect of ICT skills on the usability of LMSs has not been researched in the context of distance education.
Interactive Technology and Smart Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 13, 2010
Keywords: Communication technologies; Internet; Distance learning; Teaching methods; Universities; User studies
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