User Testing of E-learning Courses
12 Tips to Successful E-Learning edit
The following tips can be helpful conducting and/or observing the evaluation of an e-learning course.
- Select effortless technology
Use technology that’s easy to access such as an easy synchronous technology,, i.e. WebEx, if it’s a virtual evaluation to Microsoft Office products and e-mail.
- Have a means of capturing/recording screens.
Many synchronous technologies contain built in recording features. Other tools that can be used are Captivate which will create a recording of the learner’s actions and SnagIt is a static screen capture utility similar to Print-Screen for static pictures that can be pasted into a document.
- Focus on a single subject per session
Make sure each person performing the evaluation has their own computer.
- Describe the learning Scenario
- Always communicate to the learner the goals of the test. For user testing, the goal is to assess the course usability and learner attitudes while completing the instruction. It’s important to a ssure them they are not being tested, the instruction.
- Don’t provide too much detail or commentary about the course to explain various parts because it should be self explanatory. If the learner runs into problems, that’s a sign there’s something wrong with the instruction.
- Ask the learner to talk out loud while performing the testing. Not only the steps they’re taking but also what they’re thinking about the course itself and various parts such as activities, images, etc.
- Record the test
Use virtual recording within the synchronous technology, screen captures, or complete paper or online evaluations.
- If the evaluation includes an observer, listen for “trigger words” and read body language
Virtual evaluations cannot observe body language but they can hear what the learner is saying. Examples of positive trigger words include wow, cool, and great. Examples of negative trigger words include hmm, just a minute, and I don’t understand, where do I go now.
- Watch for “mouse mania”. If the learner is being observed virtually or in person, the following actions from the learner are considered “mouse mania” and signal the learner might be confused or impatient with the e-learning course:
- Rapid, undirected movement of the mouse.
- Frequently scrolling up and down the screen.
- Rapidly clicking on buttons and other interface elements within the course
If an observer is not present, a background program such as WebTrends can report how many times a user clicks on a certain page within the course or runs a particular interface element.
- Cherry-pick key learning activities
Time may be a factor in the evaluation process so it’s important to prioritize up-front on which activities/content the learner should spend their time.
- Allow the client to “listen in”
- If it’s a virtual evaluation, the client can be in the same room as the observer listening to the conversation and watching the computer screen.
- If the evaluation is in-person, the learner may be uncomfortable with an extra person in the room but they can listen to audio or view screen captures of the completed evaluation.
- On-The-Fly Updates
Learners have a more positive evaluation experience if they can see their suggestions implemented while they’re testing.
- Feedback and Subsequent Engagement
Provide additional feedback tools as links within the course they’re testing. This feedback can be submitted directly to a database or via email to the designer.
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For more information and a complete description of each tip, read, “” by Dr. Peter Honebein and Darryl Sink.