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Enhancing learner experience: Better user experience, better learning experience? -- 132 -- Short (oral) Paper

16:15 - 17:15 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 1.219

As learning technologists we always want to provide the users of a system with the best possible experience. It is often the case, however, that the common tasks users are expected to undertake are neither as intuitive or efficient as they might be (e.g. Rakoczi, 2010). This presentation describes a suite of changes made to a university virtual learning environment (VLE) and the extent to which these changes have made a positive contribution to the teaching and learning experience of staff and students.

We believe our presentation will be of interest to participants because the VLE still provides the main online learning space in most Higher and Further Education Institutions. We feel it is important to the field because focusing on the user experience – and the way this can encourage staff to create an engaging learning experience for students – can be overlooked in the development of large-scale systems such as VLEs.

The University of Sussex has been using Moodle as its institutional VLE for six years. Over the past three years, much of the in-house development has focused on improving the user experience from both a staff and student perspective. These changes have been informed by published studies, as well as feedback from our users and adopting and adapting some of the design patterns used by popular websites. Key developments have included:

  • making it easier for staff to perform common tasks;
  • creating explicit links between the tools available and their role in learning;
  • helping staff make their site the hub for the students’ learning by putting the resources and activities into context;
  • improving site navigation for students;
  • ensuring that the VLE is optimised for use on mobile devices.

In our presentation we will provide an overview of some of these developments, particularly focusing on the developments designed to improve usability of the system from the perspective of the tutors who seek to build and manage their sites within Moodle.

We will report on a range of methods we have used to evaluate these developments. These include: quantitative metrics such as the number of clicks required to carry out a given task; analysis of historical user feedback; usability studies of staff carrying out common tasks in the original and updated systems; and a survey of tutors’ current experiences.


Hi there,

We have uploaded a PDF version of our presentation slides.

Another useful resource is a video of a presentation given by Stuart Lamour at this year's Ireland and UK Moodle Moot Conference in which Stuart provides a rationale for our developments.

Finally, our team blog can be found at

Tuesday, 11 September 2012, 09:56

We've written a blog post for our paper, which includes a smaller pdf with our slides giving some explanatory notes.

Friday, 14 September 2012, 20:36