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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Improving the Usability in Learning and Course Materials

Improving the Usability in Learning and Course Materials
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Author(s): Maria Elizabeth Sucupira Furtado (University of Fortaleza and Estadual of Ceara, Brazil)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch297


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Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a discipline concerned with the study, design, and development of high-usability interactive systems (ISs) focusing on users’ needs and their experiences with technologies, among others. In a simplified way, the usability of an IS refers to how easy it is to use and to learn. HCI is a very broad discipline that encompasses different specialties with different concerns regarding computer development: software engineering (SE) is concerned with the design and development of high-quality ISs focusing on schedule, budget, communication, and productivity. The quality of an IS refers to how satisfied the system clients and/or users are, verifying whether the system is performing exactly what was requested. In order to achieve both IS usability and quality, it is necessary to go beyond designing user interfaces (UIs) and that they are easier to use and learn. It is important to define methods and use techniques (as ethnographic, semiotic, prototypes), which help designers to understand HCI concepts and build better interactive artifacts (as widgets) and to understand the effects that systems will have on humans (Cooper & Reimann, 2003). Some HCI concepts are characteristics of users (such as their preferences, language, culture, and system experience) and their contexts of use (such as great familiarity with a device, easy accessibility, and good luminosity of the environment). In the interactive learning context, it is necessary to consider HCI concepts into an interactive learning system development method. The pedagogic usability of an interactive learning system is related to how easy and effective it is for a student to learn something using multiple devices (such as palm, camera, cell phone) to interact with the system. For these reasons, it is important not only to think about the IS quality, but about its usability as well. In this text, an interactive learning system is composed of a virtual learning environment (VLE), with tools to support a collaborative learning and interactive course materials available for the users through this environment. So, it is important not only to think about the VLE usability, but also about the interactive course material usability.

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