Using Affordances to Make e-Learning Effortless

Given that a user interface interacts with users, a critical factor to be considered in improving the usability of an e-learning user interface is user-friendliness. Affordances enable users to more easily approach and engage in learning tasks because they strengthen positive, activating emotions. However, most studies on affordances limit themselves to an examination of the affordance attributes of e-learning tools rather than determining how to increase such attributes. A design approach is needed to improve affordances for e-learning user interfaces.

Many user interfaces have been developed based on structured and iterative methodologies. These methodologies consist of a series of processes involving analysis, user task analysis, heuristic evaluation, formative evaluation, and summative comparative evaluation. However, this functional design approach does not pay attention to affordances, properties of an object that induce specific behaviors on the part of users, and is therefore limited in that intended affordances are not systematically considered in the design process.

With the ubiquity of advanced technology in the early 21st century, most people may have no particular difficulty in navigating user interfaces. However, when learners perceive an interface as affordable, they are likely to operate the interface effortlessly and, therefore, to show desired learning behaviors.