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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Usability of Learning Moment: Features of an E-learning Tool That Maximize Adoption by Students

  • Author(s): Chu, Andrew
  • Biancarelli, Dea
  • Drainoni, Mari-Lynn
  • Liu, James H.
  • Schneider, Jeffrey I.
  • Sullivan, Ryan
  • Sheng, Alexander Y.
  • et al.

Introduction: E-learning is widely used in medical education. To maximize the potential of E-learning tools, every effort should be made to encourage adoption by optimizing usability. We created Learning Moment (LM), a web-based application that integrates principles of asynchronous learning and learning portfolios into a platform on which students can document and share learning experiences that occur during clinical work. We sought to evaluate the usability of LM and identify features that optimize adoption by users.

Methods: We implemented LM in August 2016 at a busy, urban, tertiary care emergency department that hosts an emergency medicine residency, robust third and fourth year medical student clerkships as well as a physician assistant student rotation. We conducted a single-center, mix-methods study using the System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire and qualitative interviews. We sent e-mail invitations with subsequent reminders to all students who rotated in our emergency medicine clerkship from August 2016 to April 2017 to complete the SUS questionnaire anonymously and to participate in qualitative interviews. We employed purposive sampling to recruit students who used LM during their rotation to participate in our qualitative interviews. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 participants (10 individual interviews and one 3-person group interview) between January and March 2017 using an ethnographic approach and utilized a general inductive method to analyze and code for potential themes.

Results: Thirty of the seventy students invited to participate completed the SUS questionnaire (Response rate of 42.8%). The mean SUS score is 80.9 (SD 18.2, 80% CI 76.5 – 85.3). The internal consistency of the responses achieved the Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.95. The participants stressed the importance of the following in the adoption of LM: maximal simplicity and usability, compatibility with learning preferences, and department-wide acceptance and integration.

Conclusion: The overall perceived usability of LM was high. Our qualitative data revealed important implications for future designers to maximize adoption: include target users in every step of the design and development process to maximize simplicity and usability; build features that cater to a diversity of learning preferences; involve the entire department and find ways to incorporate the tool into the educational infrastructure and daily workflow.

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