Usability and affordances for inquiry-based learning in a blended learning environment

Niclas Sandström*, Robert Eriksson, Kirsti Lonka, Suvi Nenonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to identify the core dimensions of user experiences in a physical and technologically embedded learning environment (LE) designed to support active student-led inquiry-based studies and collaborative knowledge creation in higher education. Design/methodology/approachThe paper integrated the USEframe of usability of built environments and the inquiry-based engaging learning environment (ELE) to test and develop the usability and pedagogy of future LEs. A group of ten teacher students was studied and interviewed semi-structurally after a seven-week inquiry-based course unit. The findings were considered in light of the two frameworks. FindingsThe physical and embedded LEs provided the students with socio-digital affordances that promoted experienced study engagement, knowledge co-creation and sharing and a sense of safety and belonging in the scientific community. The application of the ELE model and the agile physical setting complemented and supported each other and promoted learning. Practical implicationsThe results shed light on how to integrate understanding the user process, user experience and use of embedded LEs to develop usability of new LEs. Originality/valueThe living lab provides different stakeholders with tangible information about usability and helps the designers in concrete streamlining of pedagogy and physical LEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-449
Number of pages17
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Affordance
  • Collaborative knowledge creation
  • Design and development
  • Engaging learning environment
  • Learning
  • Usability

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