Being in the users' shoes: Anticipating experience while designing online courses

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British Journal of Educational Technology


While user-centred design and user experience are given much attention in the e-learning design field, no research has been found on how users are actually represented in the discussions during the design of online courses. In this paper we identify how and when end-users' experience - be they students or tutors - emerges in designers' discussions during their meetings in well-established open universities. More precisely, we observed 15 design meetings of two design teams during the development of specific online courses. Designers' discourse was analysed on the basis of six dimensions regarding relevant actors, contents and strategies (purposes) of user experience anticipation. Results show the emergence of a solution-oriented anticipatory discourse in form of scenarios regarding how learners and tutors will react to the course and the proposed activities. Moreover, this discourse is related to an emergent type of users-based expertise, translated as the capacity of some designers to empathise with the end-users more than other designers do. The participation of designers with this type of expertise in e-learning design teams emerges as relevant for the decisions related to the course activities, interface or overall experience. Further research is invited towards this direction. © 2013 British Educational Research Association.

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