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Learning Enhancement and Development

Evaluating the usability of a Moodle redesign for staff and students at City, University of London

Principal investigator: Olivia Fox

Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are ubiquitous in UK Higher Education. According to the 2016 Survey of Technology Enhanced learning for higher education, 100% of survey respondents had an institutional VLE (Walker et al,. 2016).
Even basic use of a VLE can provide students with the flexibility of accessing content at a time, place and pace that meets their requirements. Increasingly, VLEs are a core part of an integrated learning environment enabling students to extend their knowledge.
City's VLE, Moodle, is being redesigned for academic year 2018-19. The requirements for the re-design of City’s Moodle were informed by “Thinking Aloud Testing” with staff and students. Staff and students noted that Moodle’s simplistic styling did not distract from their task. However, they did not find the Moodle interface engaging and described it as grey, cold and functional. Staff and students also highlighted that features in Moodle were not always easy to use.

Aims & objectives
This study aims to evaluate the redesign of Moodle to get insights into the usability of the design and to evaluate staff and student satisfaction with, and reactions, to the redesign. This study aims to do this by evaluating to what extent the redesign has met the aims of the project which were to:
*Re-design City’s Moodle (Theme and Course Format) so that it is visually engaging with a modern and professional look and feel that reflects the branding guidelines of the university. This aligns to a key area for improvement in the Education & Student Strategy 2016 to 2021 (p.9) to enhance “[…] physical and virtual spaces that reflect the world for which City students are being prepared […]”
*Ensure that Moodle is easy for staff and students to use and navigate across a range of devices, while building on the customisations that are popular. This will enable staff to set up the basics of Moodle modules and provide more time for them to develop active and engaging content to help prepare City’s students for the future.
*Provide a consistent and engaging layout with clear minimal click navigation to ensure students with diverse IT skills are able to use Moodle effectively on their chosen device and access the information they need when they need it.

As the requirements and aims of the redesign were informed by staff and student feedback in “Think Aloud Testing” (Nielsen, 2012a), this method will be used to evaluate the impact of the redesign.