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Philip Duchastel <[log in to unmask]>
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Philip Duchastel <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 21 Aug 2001 13:43:25 -0400
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The following is abstracted from the introduction to the paper - which is in draft form. Those interested should  see the full draft on the web. I would appreciate any
suggestions or comments, both good and bad in tone. Thanks to all. Please reply directly to me at [log in to unmask], unless you would like further group interaction on
your comments.
Philip Duchastel
The usability of online learning programs can be broken down into two distinct issues: the usability of an  e-college site and the learnability of the course content. The first
issue concerns the more usual web site usability questions. It is the second issue, that of learnability, that is  the more pressing for designers and educators. The basic
question is this: What makes the content of a site [or of some resource] learnable? Take any one of the many  thousands of online learning courses currently available on the
web and ask yourself: Does this course seem difficult to learn [assuming you have the proper background for it]?  What would improve it? What would the ideal online
course in this area look like? These questions all underlie the learnability of the course.
What then is learnability? Could we say that it is defined by successful learning? That would mean that students  who study the course thoroughly learn its content, as
evidenced on a good test for instance. Or could we say that a main criterion is ease of learning? Meaning that  students experience good intellectual flow and enjoy the
course. Both of these factors, success in learning and enjoyment of learning, can be considered criteria of  learnability. Are there others? That is the issue of learnability and
that is what is explored in this chapter.
Just consider this basic notion: we can all usually identify poor learning materials, even though we will have  trouble in the borderland between good and bad, and additional
trouble in explicating clearly what the features of excellent learning materials might be. In sum, therefore,  learnability is a very real issue.
Full draft paper accessible at

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