The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
M269 Algorithms, data structures and computability is being rewritten and will include all teaching and assessment materials in Jupyter notebooks rather than the OU’s VLE interface. These notebooks are an interactive web-based tool that allows a mix of executable practical activities as well as text-styled using mark-up language. Both tutors and students will need to use Jupyter. Thus this study will investigate the experiences of both. Students and tutors will need to install the software on their own computers.
This project will examine the usability and the accessibility (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) of this learning approach from the perspective of tutors and students of the rewritten module. Here, by usability we mean in terms of how straightforward it is to install, run and use Jupyter and achieve the module’s learning outcomes. Participating tutors and students will be asked to keep a diary focussing on a small number of key questions. They will detail their experiences of using the software, and this will provide answers to some key questions about accessibility and usability. We will request participants to submit these diary entries monthly for the first 4 months. We’ve selected the diary-format as it will allow us to see how user-experiences change over the period of the study. We will follow up the results obtained from analysis of the diaries by means of online focus-groups.
We will use NVivo to do thematic analysis on both the diary entries and the transcripts of the focus-group recordings.
We expect to establish whether guidance in adapting output from the Jupyter notebooks makes them sufficiently accessible and whether any adjustments are necessary to improve usability.
We aim to have preliminary findings available in time to disseminate these at the eSTEeM conference in 2022 to inform module teams (e.g. TM129, TM351, TM358, M348, ST374, SM123, SXPS288, S818) as to whether adjustments are needed.