BREAKOUT: Edge Hill University - UX and the VLE – Looking at the Usability of Learning Edge (Blackboard) Through Our Students’ Eyes - PRES: Megan Juss

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The acquisition of the Blackboard Community Engagement system in September 2013 provided Edge Hill University with an opportunity to improve the look and feel of Learning Edge (Blackboard) and to deliver personalised content for students and staff – using tabs, modules and secondary roles.


Feedback received via our 6th Student eLearning Survey (2014-15) reassured us that design improvements and new ‘tabs’ had been well received by many, but some were still finding the environment ‘confusing’, ‘jumbled’ and ‘overwhelming’, and comments such as ‘my lecturers all use the VLE differently’ and ‘my courses don’t look the same’ warranted further investigation.


To better understand these comments we conducted two small UX studies to examine the usability of Learning Edge through our students’ eyes - by watching and listening to new students as they tried to navigate the environment to locate key information and resources. Our findings led to developments that included:


• Updating the Baseline framework

• Standardising programme and module area course templates

• De-cluttering the interface & redesigning the ‘My Library’ tabs


Responses to the 7th Student eLearning Survey (2016-17), to the question, ‘What features of Learning Edge have improved your experience of learning?’ evidence the impact this work has had on our students’ experience and success:


• “Clearly organised, can find timetable, lectures and the handbook easily”

• “it is very user friendly, so it is easy to find what I am looking for quickly”

• “having different sections for each modules”

• “The My Library tab has made life a lot easier.”.

• “The journal and data bases link under 'My Library' has helped bring my assignment grades up to about 70%”


This presentation will discuss the UX techniques we employed, the resulting developments and most recent feedback on the changes that have been implemented.

Edge Hill University is a modern, post 1992 University in the North West of England – geographically close to both Liverpool and Manchester. At the conclusion of 2014, they were officially given the prestigious title of University of the Year by Times Higher Education, UK.