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Moodle usability – interviews from 2010 (#1)

In 2010, Graham MacAllister,  founder of  Player Research, interviewed a number of staff members here at Sussex and videoed them interacting with our old version of Moodle.

These videos – and Graham’s subsequent report – were very helpful to us in deciding on the priorities and approaches to adopt in taking forward the work that we’ve done with Moodle since then.

We can’t post the videos because we didn’t request appropriate permissions from the interviewees, but here is a totally anonymous transcript of a short section of one of the interviews.

This is a screen shot of the Moodle site from 2010 they are looking at:

Interviewer: Imagine if we suddenly decide that it would be much better if it was in 10 sections? How would you go about changing it to 10 sections?

[4 second pause]

Interviewer: If I can ask you,  just to talk out loud about the things you’re looking for or what you would expect.

Staff member:  [replies straight away] Well, we need something to add onto here [with her mouse she is indicating the final section in the 5 sections visible on the screen – marked with a green star on the screenshot] …. but i’m not quite sure how you’d do that [2 second pause]

[starts to look at other parts of the screen – goes to the Site menu – the top left hand block]

Site menu [reads and runs mouse along the link] “Topic 1” [moves mouse across the Section 0 which is parallel to where it says topic 1]

Is that Topic 1? [shakes head][6 second pause in which she shakes head, looks around the page, ]

I really don’t know[now sliding mouse into the sussex library resources block]

[starts reading the list within this block] “Reading lists” [confidently, this is something she recognizes, then tailing off again]

No  [shakes head, looks to bottom of screen and says quietly] I don’t know let’s just go down

[Scrolls a bit further down the page, sighs, sits back in chair in a gesture of defeat] Sorry.

Interviewer: What would you like to  see?

Staff member:  [much more quickly and confidently] Um a drop down menu. [Moves mouse to the Site menu]

Or – [interrupts herself, sounds less confident, moves mouse to Site menu] This is a site menu ..

Interviewer: Mm [neutral tone]

Staff member:  [sigh] [pause][sits back in chair] I just think it’s completely .. [turns to where the interviewer is sitting] confusing


  1. Dan Poltawski
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Is this the same usability study which you demoed  a video at the UK Moodle in HE event at the open university last year?

    Is that video available online? It’d be great to see it, especially here at Moodle HQ.

  2. Carol Shergold
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dan

    Yes, it is the same clip and it isn’t available on line I’m afraid. We are hoping to publish a few more short transcripts from videos of people interacting with moodle, as it seems like a good way of anonymising and sharing some of the evidence we’ve used in updating our system. 



  3. Posted September 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Actually, what is worse is my experience that even users who have been shown (with their doing the clicking) how to add and subtract Course Outline sections by changing numbers in the Settings, they forget and next semester are again confused and even more frustrated because they remember that they did it once but now forget exactly how.

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