E-learning: the essential usability perspective
Background: Usability is the ease with which something can be used, but this essential concept appears to be rarely considered when using technology for teaching and learning in medical education. Context: There is an increasing use of technology in an attempt to enhance teaching and learning in medical education, from the use of websites and virtual learning environments (VLEs) to interactive online tutorials to blogs and podcasts. However, research suggests that the potential use of technology to enhance teaching and learning in medical education is often not fully realised. One aspect is the perceived usefulness of the technology, but another is the usability as perceived by the learner. Innovation: The purpose of this article is to introduce the concept of usability in relation to the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning in medical education, the essential factors that should be considered in the design and implementation of using technology, and to describe how the usability can be tested. Implications: Careful attention needs to be made to the main factors that determine usability: the learner and context; the technology being used; and the content.