One of our semester-long projects is to do usability testing of Moodle. We’ll be conducting a number of tests in which we give people a series of tasks to complete and how they do them. We’re not alone in this; we’re working with a number of other colleges (including Smith College, Reed College, Macalester College, Kenyon College, Earlham College and Luther College) who will be conducting tests of their own this spring.
The goal is to find some of the major (and minor) pain points with the software; to see where people run into problems, and where the system could be made more efficient. We know where some of the problem areas are from talking to faculty — the gradebook and file uploading are two obvious ones — but there’s a lot you can learn by sitting back and seeing how people work.
When the testing is complete, we’ll review the results, prepare a report for the Moodle core team, and then attack some of the low-hanging fruit at a “hack fest” at Smith College in June.
We did our first unofficial test at Lafayette this afternoon with one of our ITS collegues; our goal was to “test the test” in order to iron out any of the kinks in our task list, and to test out Silverback, the usability test recording software we’re thinking of using on the Mac … but more on that tomorrow.