International Research Will Improve Online Learning


Columbia, MO – MU’s Information Experience Laboratory (IE Lab), in conjunction with global partners, has begun a collaborative research project studying the usability of e-learning applications.  The project was announced at the first 2009 meeting of the IE Lab Global Network.  The meeting, which was held using online video conferencing technology, took place on March 5, 2009, and included more than 25 representatives from MU’s College of Education, East China Normal University in Shanghai, Thailand Cyber University in Bangkok, Tamkang University in Taiwan, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Dr. Joi Moore, Associate Professor of Educational Technology, presented an e-learning research agenda based on her pilot study at MU.  She emphasized the importance of conducting collaborative research on usability evaluation of e-learning applications from different cultural perspectives.  Dr. Moore also talked about the complexity of evaluation of e-learning applications because of cultural differences in e-learning techniques.

The meeting was highly interactive, with comments and questions from all involved. Dr. Anuchai Theeraroungchaisri from Thailand Cyber University was supportive of the idea of conducting collaborative research on usability of e-learning applications. Dr. Chun-Yi Danny Shen from Tamkang University shared their experience of evaluation of e-learning product for a corporation in Taiwan.  Mr. Paul Gagnon of Nanyang Technological University informed the participants about their activities in blended learning.  Professor Mingzhuo Lucy Liu discussed an earlier study conducted by her at East China Normal University on e-learning usability.  All partners agreed to start collaborative research in the next few months.

This is the first of a series of meetings that are being held online in lieu of a face-to-face mini-conference that had been planned to take place in Singapore later this summer.  The conference was cancelled due to budgetary concerns stemming from the global economic situation, resulting in savings of more than $6,000 for MU and significant savings for the other universities as well.  The research project work proposed by Dr. Moore will be conducted at MU and the partner universities during Spring and Summer 2009, with results shared among the partners and to the educational community at large through publication.

The Center for Educational Development of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) provided the teleconferencing system, which allowed video feeds from all parties to be shown on the same

screen with PowerPoint and other functionality.  According to NTU’s Dr. Chwee Beng Lee, “In the current economic crisis, I think it is difficult for collaborators to travel to work together.  It is tough for all our partner universities to send people to a physical meeting.  I think collaboration by video conferencing is what we all need right now.”

The IE Lab is a university-based usability laboratory operated by the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies in the College of Education that conducts research, teaching, training and usability services for MU and other organizations throughout Missouri.