M 24 Usability Report FHOOE 03-2008

Document type: KP-Lab internal document

Product name and version: Shared Space, M24 Release 

Organisers of the test: Christoph Richter
Date of the test: March-July 2008
Date of the report: 03rd of August 2008
Contacts: Christoph Richter
Emails: Christoph.Richter@fh-hagenberg.at

Executive Summary

This report gives an overview of a field trial carried out in Spring 2008 by FH-OÖ, using the Shared Space Application, M24 release. The objectives of this field trial have been to test the usability and utility of the functionalities implemented so far in a project-based educational setting and to evaluate whether the intended added value of the tool is apparent to and recognized by the students. The outcomes of this evaluation are intended to provide feedback on the quality of the functionalities developed so far but also to better understand students’ needs and their implications for further development.
The evaluation is based on the use and assessment of Shared Space by 36 bachelor students who were asked to use the application for carrying out a series of group tasks as part of an overall project-based assignment. Methods used included pre-, interim- and post-questionnaires, students’ essays on usability problems encountered as well as observations made by the instructor.

All in all the evaluation revealed the following strength and weaknesses:
The design, visual and basic idea of the Shared Space Application were the main strengths identified by the students. Furthermore, it turned out that students’ expectations as well as wishes for additional functionalities closely parallel the actual development plan what can be seen as an indication that Shared Space Application is basically in line with students’ needs for collaborative work.
On the other hand the field trial also revealed several limitations including first and foremost problems with the overall performance, lacking support for synchronous and asynchronous communication as well as unfamiliar usage of the system and organization of resources. In the field trial the Shared Space Application turned out to be rather an advanced tool for document management than for collaborative knowledge creation.

In conclusion the following main recommendations were derived:

  • Improving the overall performance of the Shared Space Application. While in general the environment became much faster since March 2008 the performance is still perceived as one of the main obstacles by the students.
  • Better support for synchronous and asynchronous communication with users currently not logged in.
  • Notification services that allow users to track changes both while being logged in as well as being logged out.
  • Careful review of the GUI to check for inconsistencies.
  • Consequent adoption of an object oriented user interface metaphor. For example the concept of tools should be omitted from the user interface allowing the user to invoke a tool by creating, opening or editing a (content) item.
  • Revision of the mechanisms for creating links (cp.
  • Exploration of users’ tool ecologies in other contexts as well as possibilities for integration of tools currently used.
  • Clarification of the way Shared Space Application is meant to support boundary-crossing collaboration.
  • Investigation of the pros and cons of the network-like organization of items and exploration of possible alternatives.

This page is a category under: usability and under Category Of Feedback Testing Data


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