Moodle UX Evaluation

Moodle UX Evaluation – PDF – 3MB

It has been about one year since my last blog post where, on my search to find out how a graphic designer could enhance online learning, I realised that the largest barrier was the usability and readability of the online learning management system (LMS), for students and for lecturers.

Unsure of my next move, I have plunged into the world of user experience (UX), reading articles, seeking advice from experts, being hyper-aware of websites I visit, and completing the Human Computer Interaction course on Coursera. I’m not sure that this experience has improved my quality of life necessarily, as I now find myself frustrated when sites break the most basic usability guidelines, however, this has all culminated in an overall usability or UX assessment of the Moodle LMS.

As I see it, Moodle is this fantastic system that has so much to offer and provides genuine solutions to complexities that I still struggle to comprehend. Massively talented developers have poured their time and effort into making this product incredibly powerful and scalable (a task unto itself). So I ask that we give these developers the respect and kudos they deserve. What I am setting out to do, is ask that we help them to improve the usability of this software, so that the user can fully appreciate the amazing tool they have at their fingertips.

I must highlight that one of the first things I did was to explore what other LMSs were on offer “off-the-shelf” and was quite underwhelmed by my findings. Some were more aesthetically pleasing than the outdated version of Moodle that I was using at the time, however, it didn’t matter how many trials I signed up for, or how many features they offered, none met up to my expectations of an “Apple-like” experience (my apologies to the Canvas LMS reps who may have thought I was in a position of more influence, yes, I am still avoiding your phone calls).

In short, I have done a usability assessment on Moodle because that is the software in use within my organisation. My reasons for doing so are (a) because of the students who have to interact with Moodle (b) because of the lecturers who have to battle with Moodle on a daily basis (c) because I have to use it, and (d) because UX is actually kind of fun! As a side note, I would be surprised if, in this start-up culture we are in, no one was developing a rival, so there is a high possibility that a new LMS could be created to overtake them all.

I’ve decided to put this information on this blog to increase it’s discoverability, but my aim is to log these suggestions on the moodle.tracker.org site (an online update suggestion tracker). So if you agree with any of these suggestions or think they could be an improvement, the best and most likely way to affect change would be to support these suggestions on the Moodle Tracker site.

Anyway, let’s get to it! A humble graphic designers usability assessment of the vanilla (unaltered version) of Moodle, and some visual suggestions to improve it.

This will eventually be broken into separate blog posts for quick and direct access, but for the moment, the full UX evaluation in PDF format is at the top of this post.

Comments and feedback are super welcome. As stated, I have only been focused on this for one year and am not an expert by any means. Help and feedback are appreciated and necessary! Please comment on the relevant page. Thanks!

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5 thoughts on “Moodle UX Evaluation

  1. G’day Tara,

    A year between posts is too long. But when you do post it’s got a lot in it. Well done.

    Given my interest in the Book module (see this project) I paid a bit of attention to that section. Actually, give the aim of that project is to make some enhancements to the Book module, it would certainly benefit from a more indepth UX evaluation.

    One potential bug in your evaluation of the Book module. The “Book Administration” block does/should include a turn editing on/off link. It does on the study desk and on the local test Moodle I have on my laptop.

    Your other point about the display of the editing options all at once reveals the subjective nature of these types of evaluation. As a heavy user of the book module (my main course includes at least 73 Moodle books with 670 chapters) hiding the editing options behind a menu (mirroring a recent change in the main course page) would annoy me no end. Meaning I would now have to click twice to choose one of the options, rather than once. (This change particularly annoyed Peter).

    This would be especially annoying due to the current behaviour of the import functionality of the Book module which results in me having to spend a lot of time manually moving chapters around.

    I can see the point behind hiding the options, but while that may help once group of users, it will annoy another group.

    I think there’s quite a lot of value in this type of analysis. The examples in the Salon talk Peter and I gave are a related type of analysis. The main difference being is that the tasks being evaluated are broader learning and teaching tasks (who is a student and what have they done) rather than evaluating specific Moodle tools.

    David.

  2. Hi David,

    Thanks for your feedback! Good point about the editing options within Moodle books. Looks like my suggestion there could be neglecting another usability heuristic (Flexibility and efficiency of use – Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions – Nielsen Usability Heuristics). My intention is to help speed up the process and not slow it down, so worth looking into it further. I’m not against trying to think outside the box and come up with a completely fresh approach. There must be a good solution! I admit, I haven’t read through your Moodle book module project, but I will!

    And you’re right, these evaluations are only meant to be the first step of many to hopefully get onto the right track and then extensive user observations are meant to follow. Actually a crucial first step missed, was to observe advanced user navigation! Any volunteers!? 🙂

    Thanks again for the feedback!

    Tara

    • Hi Tara,

      i really appreciate the work you put into your report because Moodle’s UX / interface design offers more than enough room for improvement. Sometimes it affects usability and workflow, sometimes it’s just ugly and clunky… the question bank and the lesson module are among the biggest offenders I think.

      Anyway, did you ever get around to opening up any issues in the Moodle Tracker I could vote for? And are you still dealing with the topic in general?

      best regards
      Sebastian

      • Hi Sebastian,

        Thanks for your comment. My suggestions are really only surface deep, but they do try to smooth out the experience with what I think are some relatively small visual amendments. 🙂

        There is a forum topic where a few people have put a few comments forward, but no requests to the tracker as yet. Feel free to check out the Moodle forum post here… https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=316886 And please pick apart any of my suggestions, I’m sure there are some holes and I would genuinely like it to improve on them.

        I am keen to create a clickable prototype so that users can get a real feel for how these changes will feel. I’ve just gotten a six month trial with InVision, so maybe soon! 🙂

        Thanks,
        Tara

  3. Pingback: Moodle usability – Global editing button overwhelms the user when turned on | Exploring the possibilities

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