A Day at MMU Usability Labs

A first look at LRT’s experience of using the services of http://www.scmdt.mmu.ac.uk/business_services/specialist_facilities/usability_lab/ to analyse how students use My MMU and Moodle.

I was most impressed with the lab and team from the School of Computing; they did everything they could to make the best possible use of the time available and offered constant support in our attempts to understand the behaviour of the student volunteers navigating the web sites.
I should emphasise that is just my subjective view on how students used My MMU and Moodle and in the next few weeks as we analyse the data collected from the eye tracking software, the video and the post task evaluation questionnaires a more objective model of behaviour will be built up.

The first notable finding was the sample of 10 students split into two groups, one at home with My MMU and a second smaller group who encountered a number of difficulties navigating the two systems. It will be interesting to look at the post task questionnaires and see if there is a relationship between the use of the portal and the ease of navigation. This will raise many questions on design style including do you design for the first time user, the experienced user or can you design so that it works for both?
The group who were more at ease with the My MMU and Moodle as you would expect did not have a uniform way of navigating the two sites but did so in a manner that made sense to them.

Common traits.
Strong use of the Left hand navigation, all the students made use of it, but one worrying point was their use of the right hand block in Moodle was less prominent.

A number of the students made no use of the Top Tab navigation within My MMU from a subjective viewpoint it was if they did not see the links at all, the heat map produced by the software used in the lab will be able to confirm this.

One of the tasks we asked the students to perform was to check on the status of the book loans from the library and we had a three way split,

  • Those not happy in using My MMU Googled for MMU and followed the links to the Library and logged into the library system from there
  • Of the reminder some used the icon bar in the email and more web part while others used the top level tab navigation to go to the my library page

Some confusion over the naming convention of my accounts and my finance pages.

One interesting comment from one student was that they do not explore the various tabs within My MMU and unless they are told the benefits its likely they will never see and use the features available to them

It was a very good day, and I am looking forward to seeing if the heat maps etc. show