Who Can And Who Is Good And Dependable At Completing Assignments Free Of Plagiarism In Own Words?

Article Critique

For this assignment, use an article on solutions to compatibility and accessibility issues. The article should be published after 2010. Write an article critique that includes the following information:

·         briefly introduce and summarize the article,

·         identify the author’s main points,

·         identify the author’s intended audience,

·         identify specific issues addressed in the article,

·         discuss whether the information in the article applies to this course, and

·         discuss how the author could expand on the main points.

Your review should be at least two pages in length, not counting the cover and reference pages. Use APA style when writing your review. Cite any direct quotes or paraphrases from the article, and include any sources used in your review in a references page.

The article is uploaded below.

Pakistan Journal of Science (Vol. 68 No.2June, 2016)

164

A TECHNIQUE TO INCREASE THE USABILITY OF E-LEARNING WEBSITES

Q. Ain, M. Aslam * , S. Muhammad

** , S. Awan

** , M. T. Pervez

** , N. Naveed

** and A. Basit

** S. Qadri

***

Department of Computer Science, School Education Department, Govt. of Punjab * Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore, Pakistan.

** Department of Computer Science, Virtual University of Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan.

*** Department of Computer Science, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur

Corresponding Author: quratulain.nazir65@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Distance learning is an ancient idea to impart education to the learners who were unable to join the regular educational institutes. Revolution in information technology has changed this

mode of learning to e-learning. E-learning is the mode of education in which the learners in remote

areas were educated through the use of technology. Many institutes have developed dedicated websites

and learning management systems such as open courseware, to introduce e- learning method. These

learning management systems are very efficient, have vast learning material and communication

channels without assistive support for physically disabled users. Lack of assistive technology support

in these websites stimulated negative user experiences. In this research work an e-learning usability

evaluation model based on user’s mental model, had been developed. Objective of this research work

was to reduce the gap between user’s mental model and designer’s perception. The major problem

while improving usability was a communication gap between user and designer.

Keywords:Usability, Accessibility, User Experience, Cognitive Burden, Learning Adaptive, Usability Evaluation

Model.

(Received 19-02-2015 Accepted 02-06-2016).

INTRODUCTION

Just making things easy to visualize may not be

a parameter to address the usability. Usability is a well-

defined unit of product adoption level of user with

contentment, competence and worth. User experience,

cognition and learning ability are important factors for

website surfing (ISO-9241-11, 1998). Usability of

websites is measured by its user adaptive level, screen

reading level, satisfaction and learnability. The above-

mentioned factors affect accessibility of a website design,

user adaptation and display of contents with ease of use

and navigation. Massachusetts institute of technology

(MIT) launched its open courseware in 2002 for the first

time in the history which gave the concept of e-learning.

A lot of irrelevant images or textures on the websites lead

to cognitive burden which disturbs the users. A

combination of intrinsic burden, germane burden and

extraneous burden is known as cognitive burden (Hasan,

2012).

The purpose of developing e-learning usability

evaluation model is to reduce the gap between mental

model of the user and designer’s perception. User’s

interaction with system is mental model of the user. One

of the major drawback is the gap between the mental

model and designer’s perception, which leads to less

usability (Norman, 2004).

The concept for enhancing quality of teaching

and learningvia technology using virtual learning

environment(s) (VLEs) in medical education is given by

Asarbakhsh and Sandar (2013). They reported that 85% of

the problems can be identified by questionnaire/survey

and testing techniques which help to improve e-learning

system. Think aloud technique, applied to let the learner

to observe the system and to give feedback. They chose

attributes like navigation; learning ability, visual design

and consistency, which have been used to improve e-

learning systems/websites.

It is important to achieve sufficient level of

competence in an effective and efficient manner. User’s

experience is a major challenge, which leads to cognitive

burden (Jayakumar and Mukhopadhyay, 2013).

In a study, Buchner et al. (2012) demonstrated

usefulness of robots by experimental methodology while

considering user experience as important issue. User

Experience increases gradually and changes periodically.

It is not static at all, and introduced their concept by

introducing two kinds of robots i-e one working cell and

one robotic arm. Robotic arm is feasible and is free to

interact. UX measured by the following scales i-e

perceived usability, general user experience, emotion and

stress.

The accessibility issues regarding disability that

affect the users in educational context. Physically disabled

persons using websites have a great significant influence

by the use of assistive technology. Developers of the

websites must have knowledge about the distinguished

features of assistive technology to work appropriately in

Pakistan Journal of Science (Vol. 68 No.2June, 2016)

165

order to develop websites Freire et al. (2013).

The standards for evaluating usability of online

learning management systems with a combination of ease

in navigation structure were introduced by Hasan (2012).

They used two online automated tools, html toolbox and

web page analyzer along with a questionnaire directed

towards users of Jordan University website. Each category

deals with one usability aspect.

A weighted measurement evaluation for user

accessibility while using e-learning systems has been

developed. They proposed solution using semi-automatic

tool. They tested two online learning management

systems, as case studies (VULMS and efront) by

conducting online survey to measure their usability.

Satisfaction of user depends upon the level of usability,

which originated from e-learning system Aslam et al.

(2011).

A model for adaptive learn-ability, usability and

user effectiveness of educational content management

systems had been developed by Jooet al. (2011). Their

research work intended to develop usability evaluation

models and a survey tool for measuring the learn ability,

usability and efficiency for academic library websites.

A model that affects the efficiency and

performance of young users while performing search

operations on the web has been presented by Dinet and

Kitajima (2011). They identified six mental model styles

in their method: technical view, connection view,

functional view, process view, technical functional view

and functional-connection view. Browsing sites and

defining the search processes involves the following three

main steps: state the problem, choose the best solution and

evaluate the answer.

A task analysis model for groupware to perform

a task more precisely was developed by Pinelle and

Gutwin (2008). Major components of task model were

scenarios, tasks, individual, collaborative subtasks and

actions.

A launch of new technology in market comes

with lots of risks as time, failure and effort (Norman,

2004). New feature in the product enables user to adopt

that product. Designer’s objective is to meet the user

satisfaction level. User Experience (UX) leads to usability.

Usability of a website depends upon the satisfaction level

of user (Hassenzahl and Tractinsky, 2011). It is observed

in many scenarios that there is no communication between

user and designer.

The section 2 focuses on developed model. In

section 3, results and discussions for the developed model

has been documented. In section 4, conclusion with

future research section presented. References cited in

section 5.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The proposed web based learning usability

evaluation model (WBLUEM) is shown in Fig-1. The

objective behind the research was to reduce the gap

between user’s mental model and designer’s perception.

The discussed factors were the designer’s perception, the

conceptual model based on user’s perception, the user’s

mental model and the learning system evaluation

parameters.

The conceptual model expressed basic

functionality, vital standard of systems, websites

including internal and external issues. It successfully

implemented the fundamental objectives of the developed

system. Mental model explicated the feelings of users

about the working of these websites in the real world. It

was a psychological representation of imaginary,

hypothetical and reality.

What user believed about the system was mental

model. The user’s mental model was based on belief, not

facts. The user interface should communicate the basic

nature of system well. This was a prime goal of

designers. Understanding the concept of mental models

can help you to make sense of usability problems in

design. When users have erroneous mental models they

make mistakes on websites. Designers develop websites

according to their mental level, vast knowledge and

experience. They have no idea about the categories of

different users. A designer cannot understand the

accessibility and usability issues of naive users. This bad

impression leads to negative user experience towards

website. Cognitive science helps to explore mental

models. Designers perception is basically guide of user

experience that how much user is comfortable. Every

user has its own thinking, perception and action, which

results in different usability needs. This variation in the

usability requirements leads to a gap between the mental

model of user and the designer’s perception.

Due to lack of communication between

designers and users, the designers to develop websites

without understanding the usability needs of the users.

Users who interact with the system have different mental

model and abilities (Al-Khalifa et al., 2014). WBLUEM

model is developed to reduce this communication gap.

This may only be possible by conducting surveys,

interviews and getting feedback. Based on user

perception, the designer changes interface, perform some

iterations and validations. The learning system

evaluations parameters given in table 1 are used to

conduct these kind of surveys. The five parameters

usability, accessibility, cognitive burden, learnability and

user experience are used for evaluation of a website. Lack

of communication between user and designer causes the

issues related to usability and accessibility. This leads to

cognitive burden, which has influence on behavior

towards user experience. All these factors directly or

indirectly affect the learning adaptive-ness of the users.

This model has practically implemented use of an online

Pakistan Journal of Science (Vol. 68 No.2June, 2016)

166

questionnaire. User experience is a major challenge, which leads to cognitive burden.

Fig 1: Web Based Learning Usability Evaluation Model

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The proposed approach used in current research

work was based on an approach of a simple model to

define the relationship between system, user and designer

(Norman, 2004). The model developed in this research

was an enhanced approach of same model. Also this

model was based on earlier developed cognition model

(Thielschet al., 2013). Researchers added the conceptual

model, which was a main element of WBLUEM. The gap

between users’ mental model and designers’ perception

may be reduced by conducting surveys, interviews and

feedback from users time to time. The proposed model is

shown in figure 1. When different kinds of users interact

with a website their perception about that website

isdeveloped. Conceptual model was used by different

kind of users. When they have some accessibility or

usability issues they will suggest in the form interviews.

In this way, designers know what user want in the

website. The interaction tools used to fill the gap between

designer and user are survey, feedback and interview. In

a study, Jooet al. (2011) developed model for adaptive

learn-ability, usability and user effectiveness of

educational content management systems. Designer again

updates interface, performs iterations and validations.

Then user’s mental model and designer perception gets

equal. Hasan (2012) introduced new standards for

evaluating usability of online learning management

systems with a combination of ease in navigation and

structure.

Table 1. Usability Evaluation Parameters Based Questionnaire

VULMS and Coursera were tested using virtual

testing tool. The researchers tested the test bed VULMS

and Coursera using Virtual-testing tool. The testing tool

was used to measure the usability and accessibility of the

educational as well as other website. Any of the website

can be checked by giving its URL or by uploading an

HTML file. The complete description of errors is shown

in table 2.

Usability Evaluation Parameters

Parameters Sub Parameters

Usability Browser Compatibility,Collaboration Support,Security, Ease of Use, Ease of Navigation,

Completeness, Reliability and Efficiency, Multilanguage Support, Universality, Load Time,

Accuracy

Accessibility Hardware And Software Support, Controllability, Readability, Navigability, Display Space,

Helpfulness

Cognitive Burden Satisfaction, Display of Content, Readability, Use of Aesthetics, Design Consistency

User Experience Satisfaction, User Friendly interface, Error Handling and Support, Attractiveness

Learning Adaptive Remember ability, Pedagogy, Learner Facilitation, Curriculum Management

Pakistan Journal of Science (Vol. 68 No.2June, 2016)

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The results obtained from proposed model were

compared with the previous exiting approaches to

validate this research. The comprehensive comparison is

shown in table 3 and 4.

Table 2. Results obtained Using Proposed Model/Tool.

Description Coursera VULMS

XML Issues 8 errors 18 errors

XHTML issue 195 errors 7 errors

Accessibility 216 accessibility issues 5 pages with accessibility problems

Standards 1 page that violates W3C standards 5 pages that violates W3C standards

Usability 1 page with usability issues 5 pages with usability issues

Table 3.Comparison of Testing Tools with Proposed Tool.

Tool Name W3C Validator Virtual Testing tool

Capacity Single webpage (main page) Complete website

Criteria HTML code, HTML 4.01 without repairing Usability, Accessibility, HTML 5.0 with Repaired code

Base W3C compliance WCAG 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 , W3C compliance

In this section the researchers had discussed the

validity of this research by comparing it with the results

of already existing studies and validated the research.

Aslam et al. (2011) used the questionnaire based

technique for the comparison of two different leaning

management systems of different institutes. Shrivastavaet

al. (2012) used the questionnaire as a tool. Mentes (2012)

conducted a survey based on hypothesis. Asarbakhsh

and Sandar (2013) used questionnaire based on learner

observation and scenario. Jayakumar and Mukhopadhyay

(2013) used a survey based on user feedback. Now in this

proposed approach for enhancing the usability, an online

survey questionnaire based on think-aloud and review of

task analysis is used. No one of all above researchers

used think-aloud and review of task analysis in combined

fashion. So this technique has enabled us to get a proper

user feedback about the usability of learning websites and

hence concluded towards a more effective solution.

As far as the support for tool is concerned, again

the existing techniques were either manual or semi-

automatic. Only Aslam et al. (2011) introduces a semi-

automatic support of tool in their research. All others, in

our considerations, Shrivastavaet al. (2012), Mentes

(2012), Asarbakhsh and Sandar (2013) and Jayakumar

and Mukhopadhyay (2013) used the manual ways and

had no support of automatic tools. The tool proposed in

this research is fully automatic. Hence, this proposed

solution is far better than manual and semi-automatic

toolsused by the previous researchers.

The criteria used by Aslam et al. (2011) to

evaluate the usability of learning manage mental systems

was based on feedback and interactivity, learning

material, assessment, visibility, learner facilitation and

support, error handling and prevention, collaboration

support. Shrivastavaet al. (2012) used the functionality,

reliability and efficiency to observe the usability of

different learning management systems. Mentes, 2012

made the attractiveness, controllability, helpfulness,

efficiency and learn ability as criteria to formulize the

usability of learning management systems. Asarbakhsh

and Sandar (2013) based their research for usability of

learning management systems on the external quality

attributes. Jayakumar and Mukhopadhyay (2013) used

accuracy, feasibility, utility and propriety for evaluation.

All above parameters and criteria used cover some of the

aspects of evaluation. A complete set of all parameters

was not used by previous researchers. In this proposed

model, the researchers had used usability, accessibility,

cognitive burden, user experience, and learning adaptive

(all with their sub -parameters).Therefore, it is concluded

that this research covers all parameters which were

required for the evaluation of learning management

systems. Cognitive burden, user experience, and learning

adaptive were not taken under consideration by any of

already existing studies. So this proposed model has

comprehensively taken into account the vast spectrum of

criteria to evaluate the usability.

Aslam et al. (2011) used EFront LMS, VULMS

as a test bed in their research. Shrivastavaet al. (2012)

used Stanford University website and Georgia Institute

website in their research. Mentes (2012) used the Namık

Kemal University (NKU) website to perform his

research. Asarbakhsh and Sandar (2013) used

comparative study to conduct their research. Jayakumar

and Mukhopadhyay (2013) showed their results only on

theoretical basis. In this research, VULMS and Coursera

learning management systems were used as test beds to

evaluate the usability. These were more efficient and

widely used than other used by previous researchers. The

others were only simple websites or some of them had

used either VULMS or Coursera. None of them used both

of these LMS as test bed. Both VULMS and Coursera are

Pakistan Journal of Science (Vol. 68 No.2June, 2016)

168

based on very complex and comprehensive LMS, so

more options to be explored for the usability.

Aslam et al. (2011) adopted online data

collection module to conduct their research work.

Shrivastavaet al. (2012) used Logical Scoring

Preferences to propose their solution. Mentes (2012)

implemented Website Analysis and Measurement

Inventory methodology in their research. Asarbakhsh and

Sandar (2013) adopted think aloud to conduct the

research. Jayakumar and Mukhopadhyay (2013) used

Website Quality Assessment Model. In this research,

online data collection survey and task analysis, Think

aloud and Virtual Testing Tool are used to propose and

implement this model.

The researchers had developed usability

evaluation model for e-learning websites, by elaborating

some important factors in a comprehensiveas compared

to previous approaches. The researchers had defined

some tasks in an online activity where the researcher had

collected users feedback based on think-aloud technique.

The researchershad also developed criteria of usability

evaluation based on some parameters as usability,

accessibility, cognitive burden, and learning adaptive all

with their sub-parameters. In the proposed conceptual

model, the researchers had elaborated some important

factors to measure the usability and accessibility. This

model performed better than the precious models as

shown in table 3. The deficiencies in the previous models

had been addressed in this model.

The results obtained by the implementation this

proposed model is shown in table 2. The researcher had

selected VULMS and global learning management

system of Coursera as case study. The improvement in

the accessibility of website directly and indirectly,

increases the usability of websites.

Conclusion and future work: Websites play important

role in e-learning as instructors and virtual classrooms are

located at remote distance where everyone learns on

equal level. Their testing and evaluation is an important

aspect. User surveys are always best for evaluation of

websites/learning management systems. The focus during

this research was to increase usability of learning

websites by the development of usability evaluation

model. Designer’s perception must match to user’s

mental model, which was only possible by taking user

feedback and suggestions. The results shown in table 3,

VULMS got 8 points for task analysis review and

Coursera got 6 points for the same activity. Use of

assistive technology support was suggested in findings

and outcomes section, which is helpful for physically

disabled users. Web based learning is a strong tool in

developing countries. For a healthy interaction of the user

to the websites, continuous feedback is necessary from

users for learning websites. To improve the usability of

the websites/LMS designers may be deploy a site

intercept survey.

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