Saturday, November 19, 2005


Usability in E-Learning
by Michael J. Miller (Abstract)

While a large number of organizations have adopted e-learning programs, far fewer have addressed the usability of their learning applications.

More attention should be devoted to assuring the usability of e-learning applications if organizations are to fully benefit from their investments.

It’s no surprise that a large percentage of organizations have actively developed and implemented online learning programs. The reasons are clear: e-learning programs can be highly versatile and they have the capability to provide on-demand training that transcends geographic and time boundaries.

Program offerings are frequently diverse and address the needs of employees, customers, and suppliers. The versatility, convenience, and scope of offerings would seemingly suggest that all is well for these adopters of e-learning applications.

However, training practitioners within many organizations are discovering that individuals are, for the most part, not embracing the new medium of instruction to the extent that it was initially hoped. In fact, online learning programs typically exhibit higher dropout rates when compared with traditional instructor-led courses.

To be sure, there are a large number of reasons for the lack of adoption: quality of courses, relevancy of content, comfort level with the technology, availability of technical support, ability to interact with peer learners, and so forth.

Another major contributor—often left off this list—is poor usability, which is characteristic of many e-learning applications.

Definition of usability: Usability has been defined by some as the extent to which an application is learnable and allows users to accomplish specified goals efficiently, effectively, and with a high degree of satisfaction.

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