Course workspace represents the interface between the teacher, the course content, and the student. Both student engagement and student learning are influenced by the course workspace in a similar way as the end-user experience is influenced by system interface. However, course workspaces are typically designed by teachers without a specific input from students, which contrasts the practice in end-user computing and instructional design where users are or should be involved in the early stages of interface design and evaluation. In this paper, we develop a heuristics framework for being applied in a participatory manner involving the student perspective in the evaluation of course workspaces. The framework has been validated on three Moodle course workspaces. The results showed that the framework and the participatory approach provided valuable insights into student experience with the course workspace, while keeping the evaluation effort manageable in terms of data analysis and interpretation. We believe that the heuristics framework and participatory approach could be valuable for teachers, academics, and practitioners that use e-learning platforms for designing course workspaces. The paper provides also examples of improvement areas that have been identified in the evaluation and highlights new research directions in this area.
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