Until now, much research has been done about human-machine interaction. The nature of this interaction depends on both characteristics of the system and characteristics of its users. Although, it is always important to have machine characteristics as adapted as possible to human cognitive capabilities, certain tasks with or on a system are too complicated to be executed without education. Nowadays, a great number of education facilities have become available. Among others there is the opportunity to use computer assisted education, but there is also the opportunity to provide education with the help of virtual reality. This study investigated to what extent ICT (Information and Communication Technology) applications, on their own or in combination with other aids, can lead to an efficient and effective task performance. Therefore, these ICT applications had to be designed in such way that optimal task performance was obtained. Well-defined tasks and specific ICT designs were tested in different ‘task – design’ combinations with fixed groups of target users. A comparison of these ‘task – design’ combinations brought about a suiting ICT design for each particular task.
In this study ICT design was investigated within the context of a Dutch company, "Hollandse Signaalapparaten B.V.", that produces naval combat systems and teaches people to operate or maintain these systems. A radar system and accompanying tasks were selected to experiment with. Operator tasks were used to test the effect of several ICT-designs on skill-based tasks, tasks that were automatically performed. In addition, different difficulty levels of maintainer tasks were used to test the effect of designs on rule-, and knowledge-based tasks, tasks that were respectively dominated by following procedures (rules) and reasoning.
The designs that were tested were based on literature research about different information processing theories and on the design criteria that emerged from the specific situation at Holland Signaal, such as the specific target group of users.
Enschede, op web gezet dd. september, 10, 2002