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Zen and the Art of Web-Site Evaluation: Tools to assist in the successful development of an e-learning portal. Damian Gordon Ciarán O\'Leary. http://www.comp.dit.ie/e-learn DIT e-Learning Research Group. Introduction.

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slide1

Zen and the Art of Web-Site Evaluation: Tools to assist in the successful development of an e-learning portal

Damian Gordon

Ciarán O\'Leary

http://www.comp.dit.ie/e-learn

DIT e-Learning Research Group

introduction
Introduction
  • Develop an evaluation instrument for students to use to rate the quality of websites
  • Using third-level computer science students with excellent information age skills
  • Why ? To help identify appropriate web-based learning materials when building an eLearning portal
defining quality
Defining Quality
  • Pirsig - “Quality is a direct experience independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions.”
  • Kitchenham – “Quality is hard to define, impossible to measure, easy to recognise”
  • There are automated solutions, but we feel they are a quantitative approach to a qualitative problem
slide5

What are some of the dangers associated with DHMO?

  • Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
  • Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
  • Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
  • DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
  • Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
  • Contributes to soil erosion.
  • Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
  • Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
information age skills
Information Age Skills

Discernment

Searching

Monitoring

Just-In-Time

Learning

slide7

Information Age Skills

Discernment

Searching

Monitoring

Just-In-Time

Learning

The ability to know what you are looking for,

and to recognise it when you find it.

slide8

Information Age Skills

Discernment

Searching

Monitoring

Just-In-Time

Learning

The ability to find what you are looking for.

slide9

Information Age Skills

Discernment

Searching

Monitoring

Just-In-Time

Learning

The WWW is changing constantly, the nature of the information you require changes

constantly, so searching for what you need to know is an ongoing activity.

slide10

Information Age Skills

Discernment

Searching

Monitoring

Just-In-Time

Learning

The quick, continuous learning and unlearning of new skill sets

slide12

The Quest for Quality

Content

Web-Site

Technical

Features

Authority

Form

content
Content
  • Site Title
  • Content Type (magazine article, tutorial, corporate web site etc.)
  • Topic(s) Covered
  • Covered comprehensively?
  • Bibliographical References?
  • Is the information practical?
  • Language of Site (English, Finnish, etc)
  • Does this site have information that other sites do not ?
  • Is it an independent site (not too many out links)?
  • Is it well cross-referenced (inter-linked)?
slide16

Content

Site Title

  • Search Engines attach a great deal of significance
  • Titles shouldn’t be too general

e.g. instead of “The WWW” use

“A History of the World Wide Web from 1988 to 2001”

slide17

Content

Content Type

(magazine article, tutorial, corporate web site, etc.)

  • Students are mostly interested in tutorial-type sites or sites with lecture notes on them (naturally)
  • The right tools for the right job

=> Government Web sites

=> University Web Sites

=> Corporate Web Sites

slide18

Content

Topic(s) Covered

  • Compare this with title of site, do they match ??
  • Some students give ‘table of contents’ of site
slide19

Content

Covered comprehensively?

Coverage

  • How broad and deep is the coverage of a topic ?
  • Does it give the what, who, when where, why and how of topic ?
  • For new topics students are very interresting in finding site with good coverage of of a given topic
  • Does it cover the entire history of the topic ?
  • If it introduces new terminology, is it explained (or even better, linked to an explaination) ?
slide20

Content

Bibliographical References?

Scholarliness

  • Scholarly articles always cite their sources (not many webpages cite their sources)
  • The language of the site will be that of the discipline being covered
  • Student aren’t looking for this

sort of page, they want

tutorial-type info and then

assume it is scholarly.

NOTE: Authors of quality information are more inclined to publish in some other form, such as books, journals, papers for recognition and/or financial gain. Thus, websites must vie with each other on the basis of being the most colourful and dazzling, or most technically advanced

slide21

Content

Is the information practical?

  • This becomes the most important question once students are aware exactly what they are looking for
  • Examples are sometimes too irrelevant to too complex
  • It can often be very hard to find answers to specific questions
slide22

Content

Language of Site (English, Finnish, etc)

Nationality

  • Cultural bias
  • Variant spelling
  • Variant terminology
slide23

Content

Does this site have information that other sites do not ?

Differentiation

  • More Comprehensive, more up-to-date
  • QUOTES:
    • “Yes, it has more examples”,
    • “better examples”,
    • “takes a case study approach”
slide24

Content

Is it an independent site (not too many out links)?

Coupling

  • We distinguish between two kinds of sites, ones that provide links to other resources (portals) and those that provide original information
  • A good site should contain all the necessary information and not rely on external sources which may become uncontactable.
slide25

Content

Is it well cross-referenced (inter-linked)?

Cohesion

  • Is there a menu bar on each page ? Is there a site map ?
  • Some websites require that you go back to the home page to get anywhere :-(
  • A good site should find an appropriate balance between inward-pointing and outward-pointing links
slide28
Form
  • Is it intuitive to use?
  • Is there one main concept per page (with at least 5 pages)?
  • Is the layout (and interface) consistent throughout the entire site?
  • Is the grammar, punctuation and spelling correct?
  • Is multi-media being used to assist learning?
  • Does the site present the information in ways that other sites do not?
slide29

Form

Is it intuitive to use?

Navigability / Ease-of-Use / Workability / Conviviality

  • Qualitative assessment of site
  • To help avoid ‘information overload’ always provide an index
  • The simpler, the better. UI design, HCI design, Gestalt psychology
slide30

Form

Is there one main concept per page (with at least 5 pages)?

Modularity

  • Easier to design
  • Easier to change a page
  • Easier to find what you are looking for
slide31

Site Flowchart

HomePage

Section1

Section2

Section3

… …

Page1

Page1

Page1

Page2

Page2

Page2

Page3

Page3

slide32

Form

Is the layout (and interface) consistent throughout the entire site?

Navigability / Ease-of-Use / Workability / Conviviality

  • Usually this is not the case, different types of pages may require different layouts, e.g. tutorials vs. assessments
  • Stylesheets can help keep things looking similar
  • QUOTES:
    • “Yes, makes it easier to use and find appropriate information”
    • “…the layout is confusing, as it is different for each topic”
slide33

Form

Is the grammar, punctuation and spelling correct?

Accuracy

  • International influence : regional spelling suggests regional terminology
  • Very detrimental to a site’s credibility if not
slide34

Form

Is multi-media being used to assist learning?

Interactivity

  • Help us determines the teaching style of the web-site (purely instructional, behaviourist or constructivist)
  • In this survey, most web-pages that the students evaluated were principally text-based some had applets or JavaScript for illustrating programming concepts, but students are mainly interested in getting the information in a text based format. Could be their vocabulary of the internet is mainly text-based and younger students will favour most audio/video based learning on the web.
slide35

Form

Does the site present the information in ways that other sites do not?

Differentiation Appeal

  • QUOTES:
  • “Yes, it’s more informal”
  • “Use of examples is great”
  • “The layout is spacious”
  • “teaching good website design by showing bad websites”
  • “Exercises at the end of each page”
  • “Yes, boringly !”
technical features
Technical Features
  • URL of Site
  • Does the site work on all browsers ?
  • Does it require any additional downloads ?
  • Is the site accessible ? Are there text/audio alternatives ?
  • Do the graphics take a noticeable time to load ?
  • Are all downloadables labelled with their sizes (e.g. Video 121Mbs) ?
  • Does the site provide a search function ?
  • Does the site provide additional technical features that other sites do not (e.g. Bulletin Board, mailing lists, search facility)
slide39

Technical Features

URL of Site

Visibility

  • Search Engines are reducing the importance of URLs
  • Top-Level Domains:
      • .com .edu .gov .net .org .tv
      • .ie .uk .us .au .sa

Jakob Nielsen

A URL should by easy-to-remember, easy-to-type and easy-to-spell

URLs that visualise the site structure

URLs that are "hackable" to allow users to move to higher levels of the information architecture by hacking off the end of the URL

persistent URLs that don\'t change

slide40

Technical Features

Does the site work on all browsers ?

Compatibility

  • Does it work on Internet Explorer ? Netscape Navigator ? Mozilla ? Opera ? Cello ? Emacs ? K-Meleon ?
  • What about backwards compatibility ? Older versions of browers ?
  • Does it work for text-based browsers ? Lynx ? w3m ? EnterWEB ? -- consider the emerging economies
  • Problem include; frames, Javascript, applets…FrontPage.
slide41

Technical Features

Does the site work on all browsers ?

Spot the Difference ...

Internet Explorer

Netscape Navigator

slide42

Technical Features

Does it require any additional downloads ?

Compatibility

  • e.g. Java classes, Flash, Quicktime, activeX components, cosmo player.
  • Students may not be allowed to install software on school computers, so should try to avoid an excess of technical wizardry.
slide43

Technical Features

Is the site accessible ? Are there text/audio alternatives ?

Accessibility

  • Very important -- many of the students surveyed were not farmiliar with the term ‘accessibility’ :-(
  • The W3C (World-wide Web Consortium) has a body that coordinates this ;

WAI - Web Accessibility Initiative

slide44

Technical Features

Do the graphics take a noticeable time to load ?

Retrievability

  • Where did Boo go wrong?
  • It demanded users have the Flash plug-in,
  • then forced them to navigate pages of animation to get to the place where they could order something.
  • It hid the navigation under cute graphics.
  • It crashed browsers.
  • It launched new windows at every opportunity.
  • It demanded a fast connection (in theory 56k, but higher in reality).
  • It blocked Mac users entirely

Some students feel that sites with no graphics are boring…you can’t please everyone

slide45

Technical Features

Are all downloadables labelled with their sizes (e.g. Video 121Mbs)

Accessibility

  • Shows a consideration for your audience
slide46

Technical Features

Does the site provide a search function ?

Searching

  • Again, shows a degree of consideration for your audience
  • Allows students to find information quickly
slide47

Technical Features

Does the site provide additional technical features

(e.g. Bulletin Board, mailing lists, search facility)

Differentiation Instruction Style

  • Is the site purely instructional, do it have regular quizzes (behaviouristic) ? Interactive tools (Const) ?
  • HTML tutorial should have HTML validator
  • Tests, Demos, Notice boards, Discussion boards, Mailing lists, Drop down lists, Help files, User formatting, Shopping carts
slide49

Authority

On the internet, no one

knows I\'m a dog.

authority
Authority
  • Is it clear who the author(s) are ?
  • What organization do they represent ?
  • Can you contact either the author(s) or the organization ?
  • Is the organization or author(s) well-known ?
  • Date of finding site
  • Does the site have a date of creation and date of last update ?
  • Is this site linked to from anywhere ? If so is the parent site a credible authority ?
  • Are there a lot of out-links ? What sort of sites do they go to ?
  • Is there additional authority information you can learn from the URL (e.g. the page is part of a user’s site, it may be a temporary site, it may be a free site) ?
slide51

Authority

Is it clear who the author(s) are ?

Objectivity Scholarliness

  • Are there any political, ideological or other biases ?
  • Is the researcher in the domain ?
slide52

Authority

What organization do they represent ?

Objectivity Scholarliness

  • As before, are there any political, ideological or other biases ?
  • Is the organization in the domain ?
slide53

Authority

Can you contact either the author(s) or the organization ?

Credibility

  • Increases user confiedence
slide54

Authority

Is the organization or author(s) well-known ?

Credibility

  • Increases user confiedence
slide55

Authority

Date of finding site

Currency

  • For future reviews
slide56

Authority

Does the site have a date of creation and date of last update ?

Currency

  • Students need to realise that if the author or sponsorship of the information is not clearly identified and if there is no indication of date of publication or update, then the materials should not be used.
authority1
Authority

Are there a lot of out-links ?

What sort of sites do they go to ?

Credibility

  • It is important that links are not to sites with excessive advertising, irrelevant materials or legally compromising material
slide58

Authority

Is this site linked to from anywhere ? If so is the parent site a credible authority ?

Credibility

  • Again lends credibility, key factor in calculating importance of site in search engines
slide59

Authority

Is there additional authority information you can learn from the URL (e.g. the page is part of a user’s site, it may be a temporary site, it may be a free site) ?

Stability

  • www.cal2003.com
  • www.comp.dit.ie/dgordon
  • http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2003/0407/index.htm
  • http://loginnet.passport.com/login.srf?id=2&svc=mail&cbid=24325&msppjph=1&tw=0&fs=1&fsa=1&fsat=1296000&lc=2057&_lang=EN
outcomes
Outcomes
  • which features students like about websites
  • identified and refined their information age skills
  • which websites appeal to students
  • a set of standards that can be applied when designing our own materials
  • a corpus of websites that are rated, thus embodying Communal Constructivism
slide62

The Need for Standards

  • SCORM / AICC / IMG ...
  • XML defined Websites
  • META tagged HTML sites
  • Standard HTML Websites
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