Evolving a conceptual framework and developing a new questionnaire for usability evaluation of blended learning programs in health professions education
Background: Blended learning programs (BLPs) have been widely adopted across health professions education (HPE). To bolster their impact on learning outcomes, the usability of BLPs should be rigorously evaluated. However, there is a lack of reliable and validated tools to appraise this dimension of BLPs within HPE. The purpose of this investigation was to evolve a conceptual framework for usability evaluation in order to initially develop the Blended Learning Usability Evaluation – Questionnaire (BLUE-Q).
Methods: After the completion of a scoping review, we conducted a qualitative descriptive study with seven purposefully selected international experts in usability and learning program evaluation. Individual interviews were conducted via videoconferencing, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed through thematic analysis.
Results: Three themes were identified: (1) Consolidation of the multifaceted ISO definition of usability in BLPs within HPE; (2) Different facets of usability can assess different aspects of BLPs; (3) Quantitative and qualitative data are needed to assess the multifaceted nature of usability. The first theme adds nuance to a previously established HPE-focused usability framework, and introduces two new dimensions: ‘pedagogical usability’ and ‘learner motivation.’ The latter two provide guidance on structuring BLP evaluations within HPE. From this followed the development of the BLUE-Q, a new questionnaire that includes 55 Likert scale items and 6 open-ended questions.
Conclusions: Usability is an important dimension of BLPs and must be examined to improve the quality of these interventions in HPE. As such, we developed a new questionnaire, solidly grounded in theory and the expertise of international scholars, currently under validation.
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