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M. Dečman

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Administration (SLOVENIA)
Although today's society is full of software applications available on many different hardware platforms, the majority of users often use just their basic features. When trying to become a more advanced user, the learning process usually includes the use of written instructions or manuals and in the latest years videos as instruction media. Although interactive learning tools exist on the market, their usability and effectiveness are rarely tested.
The software usage is also important in the area of education where different software is used as direct or supportive tool for learning. The needed knowledge usually includes understanding and use of generic software applications, like word processors or spreadsheets, and specific software applications, used in specific courses, most often in the areas of mathematics, statistics, computer science and others. While learning how to use a special software application is usually part of the course plan covering software usage in depths, learning how to use a generic software application often merits less attention.

To objective of the research was to analyze different approaches towards learning how to use software applications and find the most effective approach within the testing environment. Three different approaches were used and tested within the focus group. The testing included two parts, the first part of learning a specific function of selected software application and the implementation part, where the user had to complete a given task with that same software.

The results showed that the approach using interactive learning tools was proven as the most effective, taking into consideration the measuring of the success rate for the given task and the time taken to complete it. The downside of such approach is the longer time taken to prepare the learning environment, although modern education tools make such preparations more and more simple.