edX’s Interface

I’m taking an edX course (Design and Development of Games for Learning). I’m really enjoying the course but I’m struggling a bit with the interface and how to actually watch the videos.

The Interface

Here’s what the class interface looks like:

edx-1-largeLooks okay, but at a glance, which of the movie buttons is selected? Left or right?

I found myself hitting the wrong one all the time, especially when there were only two. I assumed that the left one was selected. When I looked at it more closely, I tried to puzzle out why.

A general rule of interface design is to make the selected element stand out (not fade away). For instance, look at the nav on the left. We’re in Unit 1. They made that section stand out by making it a lighter color.  So they are following the rule, but I kept reading the interface wrong. Why?

I think it’s because the element is a button. If those are buttons then the one on the left is depressed and therefore selected. An example of why you can’t follow rules blindly. Yes, we want selected items to stand out but also pay attention to what the interface is representing. If it’s a button, then the depressed button is the selected button.

If it’s a tab, then that tab should be the dominant color to show that it is the tab of this section. Take a look at the tabs at the top of the screen shot.

Watching Videos

And now a bit of a rant. I like to listen to class videos, not watch them. I listen in the car and I listen while doing housework. I’ve done this with other MOOCs when I took them from Coursera. I assumed I could do the same with edX. Not so much.

First of all, I have to go to each separate page to download the videos and click on the buttons across the top for each video. Would be so much nicer if there was a single page I could go to, but that’s okay.

To my dismay after I downloaded the videos I discovered that the names of the files don’t seem to have any relation to the unit or order of the videos. Or I can’t figure out the pattern. So now I have to name each video as I download them.

Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it annoys me every time. I realize that I’m probably a strange case. But when you have 12,000 students you’re bound to get some strange cases.

And the solution is simple: name the files so they sort into the correct order. Maybe have an aggregate page so students can see everything in one place without have to click so much.