hosts an interesting paper from 2010 by Indira Padayachee, Paula Kotzé, Alta van Der Merwe titled “Course Management Systems from a Usability Perspective“. The paper discusses usability principles, defined as “generic guidelines that are applicable to all user interfaces” and goes on to evaluate and discuss how usable the system is based on a few simple metrics:

Post Pages - Post Inline - WIRIS
  • visibility of the system status (can you tell that it’s on/working?)
  • localization (language and terminology)
  • user control (and confidence that they won’t inadvertently break it)
  • consistency and standards in the interface
  • error prevention
  • recognition and cognitive overhead
  • flexibility and efficiency of use
  • aesthetics
  • helpfulness in error messages
  • help and documentation

I know that I give a lot of air time to aesthetics particularly here but I’ll ascribe to the broader usability metrics that are used in this paper and I think that Moodle stacks up well against the competition not listed in the paper (the paper only evaluated open source systems Dokeos, ATutor and Moodle).

In any event, there’s a lot of very specific and relevant comparative qualitative feedback starting on page 10 that details Moodle vis a vis Dokeos and ATutor on the metrics listed above. It’d be interesting to check this qualitative data against Moodle 2.7 (which has changed drastically compared to Moodle available back in 2009 when the paper was first presented).

Here’s a link to read the full report:


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  1. The paper itself seems very limited in terms of coverage. At best, it seemed to have reviewed 2-3 tools for each platform, and this is probably affecting considerably the different scores, but it still gives interesting information about the 3 platforms.

    I don’t believe a 2.7 version would rank *much* better now, proportionally, as the other platforms have also made serious usability improvements, but it would definitely get less points (I mean get less defects than the 2009 table).


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