Open source usability evaluation: The case of Moodle

Open source usability evaluation: The case of Moodle

This study examines the usability of Moodle, an open source course management system, from the perspective of 189 professors and 1867 students at the American University of Beirut. Participants were asked to complete an online survey rating the system’s performance in teaching and learning. The survey included 30 items related to five usability attributes: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Error Prevention, and Satisfaction. The study also aims to evaluate the quality of open source software used in academic institutions in the Middle East region. Open source usability evaluation: The case of Moodle

Tools Platform, has proposed “Four simple recommendations to encourage best practices in research software” aiming to help researchers and developers to adopt Open Source Software (OSS) practices and thus improve the quality and sustainability of research software. In order to encourage researchers and developers to adopt the four recommendations (4OSS) and build FAIR software, we are developing specific and practical training materials, taking advantage of the Carpentries approach and experience in training material development and maintenance.

In addition, other essential applications are expected to be implemented on campus for academic use, such as a Course Management System (CMS). In this regard, an academic institution can choose among several competing CMS, from both proprietary manufacturers and open source applications. A CMS is a software application that provides specific features to assist professors in delivering learning
material to students while meeting pedagogical goals. The primary competitor is the commercial application, Blackboard, especially after its acquisition of WebCT. It is now estimated that more than 20% of institutions of higher education in the United States use Blackboard as their official CMS

The main advantage of integrating a FOSS on campus, such as Moodle, is the discharge of license costs. In addition, system administrators have the ability to modify and customize the product. On the other hand, adopting a FOSS can be a challenging procedure because no guaranteed maintenance is offered, whereas with proprietary applications the software manufacturers provide support. Therefore, administration and maintenance costs must be considered [7]. Still, Blackboard is certainly much more expensive to maintain because it incurs a yearly licensing cost.

Very little is known about adopting CMS in Lebanese academic institutions and how these applications are used in practice. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine professors’ and students’ attitudes toward the use of the CMS program; Moodle; at the American University of
Beirut (AUB). The American University of Beirut was established in 1866 by American Protestant missionaries and consists of six colleges: Agricultural and Food Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Architecture, Health Sciences, Medicine (including the School of Nursing), and
the School of Business

Besides testing the usability of the CMS Moodle, the implications of this research help in spreading awareness about the importance of competitive Free Open Source Software. Further studies are needed to investigate the spread of FOSS in general and Moodle in particular in the Middle East region.