Open e-learning platforms and the design-reality gap: exploring the impact of user-perceived functional affordances

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McCarthy, Stephen
Rowan, Wendy
Ertiö, Titiana
Lynch, Laura
Kahma, Nina
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Recorded usage rates of open e-learning platforms are often low, with many users discontinuing their use after initial acceptance. One often cited reason for this acceptance-discontinuance anomaly is the design-reality gap between users’ diverse needs and the designed features of an open e-learning platform. To explore the challenges of user continuance behaviour we adopt the lens of ‘functional affordances’, the possibilities for action that an open IT artefact provides users for achieving individual and collective goals. We investigate the design implications of user-perceived affordances based on findings from an EU sustainability project which developed an open e-learning platform for citizens to improve household energy efficiency. Findings showcase how open e-learning users and designers perceive seven interrelated affordances differently: Informing, Assessment, Synthesis, Emphasis, Accessibility, Navigation, and Goal-planning. We put forward recommendations on how designers of open IT artefacts can bridge design-reality gaps by exploring affordance personalisation for diverse user groups.
Open eLearning , Functional affordances , Sustainable energy use , User perception
McCarthy, S., Rowan, W., Ertiö, T., Lynch, L. and Kahma, N. (2021) 'Open E-Learning Platforms and the Design-Reality Gap: Exploring the Impact of User-Perceived Functional Affordances', Proceedings of the 29th European Conference on Information System, Marrakech, Morocco: Virtual, 14-16 June, ECIS 2021 Research Papers. 105.
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