In the era of digitalisation, the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into work life has revolutionised organisational communication and information sharing. With the rapid advancement of technology, organisations have to adapt their tools to support their communication channels, enhance collaboration, and share information more efficiently by eliminating location barriers. By embracing technological advancements, organisations can improve organisational learning, by making information available for everyone and making it easy to capture, document, process, and analyse.
Developing a digital tool is a demanding process that requires a detailed analysis of user needs. For a successful and sustainable product, it is necessary to develop tools aligned with the needs of people to make a smooth transition to working collaboratively with technology. On this issue, Technology Acceptance Theory, proposed by Davis (1989) and extended over the years, can be a guide to designing a learning tool, which can be defined as any resource, software, or technique designed to facilitate knowledge acquisition. To integrate technology into learning practices by following the principles of TAT, we are working on the development of Propel, which is an innovative software solution designed to foster programmatic and organisational learning.
It is vital for a learning tool to enhance user engagement and facilitate learning within organisations by being integrated into work processes, and accepted by users. To make tools align with the principles of Technology Acceptance Theory requires a user-centred approach, ensuring that the tool is perceived as useful and easy to use by the target audience. Below, we summarise key points inspired by Technology Acceptance Theory (TAT) for designing a learning tool by applying the theory’s key principles to the example of Propel’s development.
1. Identifying User Needs
The very first step should be conducting research to understand the needs and preferences of the learners who will use the tool. It is a vital step to detect the key points in the learning process. Gathering feedback from potential users is the best way to gain insight into their requirements and needs. To develop Propel, research has been done to discover the needs of the organisations in the international development area, and during our piloting process, we conduct regular interviews to receive feedback from our piloting partners to identify their needs.
2. Perceived Usefulness
Perceived usefulness emphasises the practicality and relevance of the learning tool. It is important to clearly communicate the benefits it offers, such as enhanced learning outcomes, increased efficiency, or improved knowledge retention. To ensure that Propel serves the needs of organisations by capturing the essential learnings, we continuously improve the learning structure and design of the structure of learning according to feedback from our users.
3. Perceived Ease of Use
It is important for technological tools to be intuitive and user-friendly. To make a tool easy to use, it is needed to minimise complexity and provide clear instructions for navigation and interaction. Conduct usability tests to identify and address potential usability issues. To make sure that Propel is serving its users well, we ensure that inconveniences such as bugs in the programme are eliminated and the design of Propel is being improved to make it more user-friendly by responding to partner feedback.
4. Training and Support
Offer comprehensive training materials and support to help users become familiar with the tool. Provide readily accessible customer support channels to address any issues or queries promptly. We introduce Propel to our partner with a workshop, and we provide detailed guidelines that describe the functions of Propel.
5. Engaging Interface
As humans, we are attracted to the design and aesthetics of objects around us. Why would it be different when it comes to software and learning tools? Therefore, creating an engaging and visually appealing interface appeals to users and motivates learners to use the tool regularly. In Propel, we are working on offering an appealing and personalised design, such as personalising learning diagrams or offering light and dark background options that users can change according to their preferences.
6. Social Influence
Another important aspect is to integrate social elements into the learning tool, such as discussion forums, peer collaboration features, or leaderboards. Encouraging social learning and peer support, as it can positively influence acceptance and engagement. Propel offers a shared platform for organisations where the members work collaboratively, share their learnings and store them for future references.
7. Institutional Support
It is necessary to provide secure organisational support for the learning tool, such as by guiding teams starting from onboarding, and ensure that the tool aligns with the organisation’s overall learning and development strategy.
8. Continuous Improvement
Everything humans touch keeps developing, including organisations and technological tools. Therefore, gathering regular feedback from users and monitoring usage data to identify areas for improvement is essential for tools to keep up with changing needs. In Propel, we use surveys and interviews and use this feedback to implement updates and enhancements that address user needs and preferences.
To sum up, by incorporating these principles of Technology Acceptance Theory into the design process, the learning tool is more likely to be embraced by learners, leading to increased engagement, and better learning outcomes. While developing Propel, we pay attention to the key points above, aim for continuous learning and development with our users.
Davis, F. (1989). Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology. MIS Quarterly, 13, 319-340.