User-centered Redesign of Blackboard

Within the scope of IE 572 – Design and Evaluation of HCI, my teammates and I sought to address a common usability issue experienced by a great deal of students at Iowa State University (ISU): Blackboard, which is the current learning management system used at ISU.┬áDespite its widespread adoption at ISU, Blackboard has received many critics due to its unintuitive interface, complex navigation, inconsistency, unnecessary functions and aesthetic appeal. Therefore, the purpose of our project was to design a simplified user interface layout for Blackboard in order to enhance the learning experience for college students by making common tasks easily accessible, eliminating the complex design and navigation of Blackboard and by making it easier and quicker to find important information. For this purpose, we went through two full design iterations, following the steps in the user centered design process. The first iteration began with user and task analysis, which guided the design of low-fidelity paper prototypes for CyLearn. Afterwards, the initial design was evaluated by two experts, using cognitive walkthrough strategies to identify major usability issues. Moreover, it was tested with a small number of representative users with the goal of gaining a better insight into how they perceived the low-fidelity prototype of CyLearn. Based on the feedback from the formative evaluations with experts and representative users, critical usability issues were fixed and the initial design was improved. In the second iteration, the improved design was refined and a functional high fidelity prototype was developed and implemented. Then, the high-fidelity prototype was tested and compared to current Blackboard in summative experiments conducted with representative users. Results showed that CyLearn led to increased productivity, decreased workload, and increased user satisfaction when compared to Blackboard. Thus, we conclude that if CyLearn was to be implemented, it would enable users to accomplish more tasks in less time, with less cognitive effort and greater satisfaction.