User Experience (UX) service

Learn Foundations – programme of user research

We undertook a range of user research and design activities to understand the needs, priorities, attitudes and behaviours of users of the Learn Virtual Learning Environment.

The challenge

The Learn Foundations project aims to provide students with courses on Learn that meet their needs and provide the staff who design courses with the relevant skills, knowledge and guidance to do so.

The project vision is that: “Courses in Learn are accessible, and relevant information is easy to find by students. Staff find Learn easy to use, and are well supported to make and deliver rich courses online.”

What we did

This was a year-long project using a broad range of user research techniques, including:

  • open research with both staff and students
  • usablility testing
  • top tasks surveys
  • card sorting
  • tree test
  • first click analysis
  • co-design activities

What we found

This user research gave the project team a much stronger understanding of users’ needs around Learn. Through the user interviews we have developed rich, qualitative insights.

Usability testing provided similar benefits. The showcase sessions have been a valuable way of promoting how people can use usability testing to improve their Learn environments, and raising awareness of the Learn Foundations project across the University.

The programme of quantitative testing has proved invaluable in terms of developing the new Learn Foundations template. Top tasks surveys and card sorting have led directly to the creation of a new information architecture, which forms the basis of the new template. This has been iteratively tested through a tree test, first click test, and ongoing usability testing. This has given the team confidence that the new template is based on strong evidence of users’ needs.

Benefits across Schools

We spoke to a variety of staff members, representing different colleges, course types / teaching styles, and roles to build a picture of how teaching and administrative staff go about making course materials available to students, and how Learn and other digital tools fit into that bigger picture.

Interviewees represented a mixture of academic and non-academic staff, from 8 different Schools and representing each of the Colleges. We captured a range of attitudes, technical abilities, and approaches to using Learn.

This was an opportune time to conduct usability testing with some of our users… I thoroughly enjoyed working with Duncan Stephen on this mini project. The feedback was informative, encouraging, and a call to action. I’m looking forward to embedding similar practice across the School for alternative platforms for content delivery.

Alex BurfordLearning Technologist, School of Informatics

Further reading from our team blog

Browse all blog posts on the Learn Foundations project