Electronic networks services have become essential tools for the academic
community. One of the services provided has been academic electronic bulletin boards
(EBBs), and the use of EBBs has increased dramatically during the last decade. One
question concerns the possible application of EBBs as a means both for
communication and for remote training. A series of experiments were conducted
during 1991, 1992, and 1993 with the aim of examining the use of EBBs for these
purposes. The first experiment was carried out to investigate whether users experience
problems in using EBBs. The next extended this to see how students evaluated EBBs
for communication and training purposes. The main focus of the work was BUBL.
After this second experiment, modifications were made to the BUBL data and a
further experiment was carried out. A different group of students looked at the
modified material, and also compared it with US data using different software. The
fourth experiment compared the usability of a menu-based interface (dBase III +) and
a hypertext interface (HyperCard) from a student's viewpoint. It was followed by an
investigation of icons to find out how well different icons could be recognised and the
possibility of using them for language-independent instructions. Finally, the
characteristics and problems of GULFNET users were examined.
The evaluation has demonstrated the general acceptability of EBBs and their likely
value for training purposes. This leads to a discussion of how an EBB might best be
developed for use in communication and training on GULFNET.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.