We are delighted that one of our former NCI research students; Sabine Moebs has been awarded a co-funded Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue to work with us here in NELL.   This 2 year post-doc was submitted in partnership with, and is co-funded by our friends in Fluid Rock, an interactive web design and development agency based in the Digital Hub.

Sabine will be continuing her work on accesibility and flow experiences and looking at user experience across mulitple devices.  Her research is titled; Accessibility-based Software Engineering Framework for User Experience across Mulitiple Devices.

She will start work in the lab and with Fluid Rock in July 2011.

We look forward to hearing more 🙂


Moodle logo Improving Students’ Learning Experience of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in Higher Education.


Dr Stephan Weibelzahl and I are currently undertaking a user experience research study investigating how our NCI students engage with Moodle and how we can improve that experience.

Our study will then produce a report detailing students’ behaviour and guidelines on which teaching practices will improve the learners’ experience.

Our objectives are:

  1. To identify a list of most common tasks currently performed by students in VLEs.
  2. To conduct user study on NCI’s VLE (Moodle) including eye-tracking, usage observation and interview.
  3. To produce a report on students’ experience, highlighting usability issues and suggesting areas of improvement.
  4. To produce a booklet with instructional guidelines for lecturers on how to improve the use Moodle in their teaching practices.
  5. To conduct development workshops for NCI facutly to advise them on how to integrate recommendations into current learning and teaching practices.
  6. Through research and practitioner networks, make results of this study (lessons learned) available to other interested stakeholders, other HEA institutions, VLE and Moodle Learning and Teaching Networks.

This research is funded by NAIRTL and will run from Nov 2010 to June 2011

How long does your customer spend on your site before they leave?  And what makes them bounce away…

What is a bounce rate? ball

A great defination from Enterprise Ireland Open Up on-line Resource;

‘Bounce rate’ is a term used when analysing the behaviour of website visitors. Your site’s bounce rate provides an assessment of how long web surfers stay on your site when visiting, so it’s a measure of whether users found what they were looking for on the site after they arrived or were interested enough to stay around and explore. A high bounce rate means that people who arrived at your site – perhaps via an ad or a search engine result – left almost immediately. If your bounce rate is consistently high, you will need to re-evaluate your webpages and see what can be done to improve the user experience – for example, making sure you have relevant content on the site.

Understand your user experience by getting IT tested…  Then improve IT.

Picture of Ball from Pics4Learning

  • How do your customers feel about your website? Are you getting the right message across? Are you maximising sales?
  • Have you developed a new application and would you like to know more about how real customers engage with it?
usability jug

If the user can't use it, it doesn't work


Would you like to find out? Then get IT tested, try usability testing with the National E-Learning Lab. 

Usability measures the ease of use of a system or website and looks at whether intended users can carry out tasks successfully and efficiently.  At NELL we can observe and analyse how real users use your system.  We will then provide a detailed report on users’ experience, highlighting any areas for improvement. 

AND you can apply to Enterprise Ireland for a 5,000 Innovation Voucher to undertake testing with NELL.    

See our projects section for more information on previous projects.  Or why not drop into our OpenCoffee morning on 7th October from 10.30 and we can tell you all about it and show you our lab. 

or email Abi on areynolds@ncirl.ie or call on 01 4498 664 for more info. 

Are you an experienced researcher in the area of technology enhanced learning/e-learning?
Would you like to develop your career through a 2 year Research Fellowship in the National College of Ireland?


For more information on how to apply for this, check out the NCI Research website.

Deadline for submission of proposals: 17.00 Brussels time, 17 August 2010.

Improving the user experience in the National E-learning Lab (NELL):
NELL is a research facility specialising in usability testing for human computer interactions.  We would like to hear from researchers who are interested in conducting research on how to improve the user experience in e-learning.

School of Computing
Adaptive e-Learning Systems, Quality of Experience, Intelligent Tutoring Systems, User Experience, Dialogue Systems, Blended Learning, Usability, Evaluation.

Facebook logo

..and it’s 4:1 to Facebook.

Facebook was recently identified by Google as the Number 1 visited destination on the Internet.  This social media giant is now undisputedly a huge part of many users’ everyday Internet experience. Doesn’t it therefore make sense to try and understand a little bit more about what users do once they get into Facebook?

We in NELL thought so and were delighted when two previous clients of ours, Calom Technologies* and Mulley Communications**  agreed, and engaged us to undertake a usability research study looking at the behaviour of Facebook users in Ireland.

So.. What did we find out..?

  • The top three uses of Facebook were: to interact with friends, chat with friends and look at newsfeeds
  • Games were mentioned as a popular Facebook activity in pre-test questionnaire. When questioned directly if they play any games on Facebook, only 11 out of 40 indicated that they do, the most popular game is Farmville 
  • Six participants told us that they used the events feature to issue invites and found it to be very useful. However, 22 participants have responded to invitations in the past
  • The most popular method of sharing TV pages was to use the ’suggest a friend’ option. Users expected more from pages such as: storyline synopsis, biographies, spoilers, interviews, trailer etc.
  • Users find out about pages mostly through their friends recommendations and then subsequently join this page (whether they were interested or not)
  • Participants spent more time looking at adverts on profile and TV pages rather than adverts on News Feed page. 71% of participants looked at adverts on their Profile pages,  31% of users looked at adverts on the News Feed page (homepage). 
  • Users also pay more attention (53% vs. 31%) to page updates in their News Feed Wall rather than adverts to the right-hand side of the Wall.
  • Different age groups spend the same amount of time on pages, but younger users spend less time reading page updates.
  • We found no significant differences in user behaviour between male and female users.

Observations and testing took place in April 2010 in National College of Ireland with a group of 40 Facebook users; the majority of which were aged between 17-25yrs old. Participants were observed performing a set of tasks in Facebook and their behaviour was analysed using Observer XT technology and eye-tracking analysis.  Users also completed surveys and participated in an interview. 

 *Calom Technologies develops software that integrates Internet media content, live TV streams & social networks and delivers this using an online website optimised for televisions.  Calom Technologies were interested in how participants use Facebook when sharing video, and when accessing information and links on TV shows.   

 ** Mulley Communications is a communications training and consultancy company who specialise in business blogging, online marketing training, media training and teaching companies about the latest online trends. They wanted to learn more about how users engage with advertising and media within Facebook. 

Both of these studies were funded by the Innovation Voucher Initiative from Enterprise Ireland.

arrow iconSome great blogs on usability and the user experience out there.. thought would list some of my favorites..

IQ Content Blog..(Ire)

Flow- the Think Blog..News and ideas on user experience.. (UK)

Useit.com (US) – is this a blog? but have to mention Nielson!

The E-Learn Blog (US?)

CUO Rearch Centre: For Users only (BE)

To name but a few..

Image from: Savickas, Stacy. arrowicon.jpg. September 2007. Pics4Learning. 4 Feb 2010 <http://pics.tech4learning.com&gt;