Usability in online course design: Comparative perspectives on ease-of-use, satisfaction, motivation, and teacher presence
Myers, Jeanne M.
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This study used quantitative methods to investigate the significance of usability as a construct in online course design on to ease-of use, satisfaction and motivation, and Teacher Presence from Community of Inquiry theory. The rapid growth and expansion of online learning now accounts for over 33% of all higher education course offerings. College leaders recognize the need to improve retention rates and maintain or improve online course quality. Industries other then education routinely use usability testing and research to inform the design and revision process. Research isolating usability to identify its effects is necessary to support and define implementation to inform course design process and online programs. This study collected usability and perception data during the Spring 2015 semester at a community college in the Northeast. Students completed five common online tasks in one of two simulated courses, one that met usability standards and one that did not. Responses from the course designed to meet identified usability standards were significantly higher for usability ratings, ease-of-use, satisfaction, motivation and Teacher Presence items (from Community of Inquiry theory). A comparison of student versus faculty perspectives was also part of the study's findings. The study's findings conclude that usability testing should be used to provide a model for improved online course design, to support the inclusion or priority of usability in professional development as well as support for implementing usability standards in online course evaluation systems such as Quality MattersTM.