Pumping Up the Citizen Muscle Bootcamp: Improving User Experience in Online Learning

  • Beth Karlin
  • Birgit Penzenstadler
  • Allison Cook
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8519)


This paper introduces and presents preliminary findings from the Citizen Muscle Bootcamp (CMB), an online learning program designed by The Story of Stuff Project for environmental activism. We first introduce the program and its potential to leverage online learning for citizenship training. Next, we report findings from two pilot studies in which we identify strengths and weaknesses of the current user experience. Finally, we present a revised course design that integrates insights from the fields of HCI, psychology, and requirements engineering to improve participant engagement and retention. Suggestions focus on variables related to recruitment, topic, process, and completion to identify key leverage points for improving user experience. It is our hope that this partnership represents the potential of research to inform practice to support best practices in HCI for sustainability.


sustainability citizenship online learning user experience 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Merriam-Webster: Sustainable (2013),
  2. 2.
    United Nations, Our Common Future (1987),
  3. 3.
    Karlin, B.: Technology and Psychology - Natural enemies or just plain natural? Ecopsychology 5(4), 217–218 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Martin, F.G.: Will massive open online courses change how we teach? Commun. ACM 56(8), 26–28 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kop, R.: The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Special Issue-Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning 12(3) (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Song, L., et al.: Improving online learning: Student perceptions of useful and challenging characteristics. The Internet and Higher Education 7(1), 59–70 (2004)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kohler, D.: What we’re learning from online education (2012),
  8. 8.
    Card, S.K., Moran, T.P., Newell, A.: The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (1983)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Quesenbery, W.: What Does Usability Mean: Looking Beyond ‘Ease of Use’. In: Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference, Society for Technical Communication (2001)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Davis, F.D.: Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 319–340 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zave, P.: Classification of research efforts in requirements engineering. ACM Computing Surveys 29(4), 315–321 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nuseibeh, B., Easterbrook, S.: Requirements Engineering: A Roadmap. In: Proceedings of the Conference on the Future of Software Engineering, pp. 35–46. ACM, New York (2000)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Monk, A., Howard, S.: The Rich Picture: A Tool for Reasoning about Work Context. Interactions 5(2), 21–30 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cohn, M.: User stories applied: For agile software development. Addison-Wesley, Pearson Education, Boston (2004)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nolan, J.: “An Inconvenient Truth” Increases Knowledge, Concern, and Willingness to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. Environment and Behavior 42, 643–658 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Blakley, J.: Movies for a Change (2012),
  17. 17.
    Glasgow, R., Nelson, C.C., Kearney, K.A., Reid, R., Ritzwoller, D.P., Strecher, V.J., Couper, M.P., Green, B., Wildenhaus, K.: Reach, Engagement, and Retention in an Internet-Based Weight Loss Program in a Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial. J. Med. Internet Res. 9(2), e11 (2007)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Siegel Bernard, T.: Finance Class on the Web, for Students of All Ages. New York Times (2013)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Money Smart: A Financial Education Program (2012),
  20. 20.
    Cialdini, R.: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. William Morrow and Company (1984) Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Deci, E.L., Koestner, R., Ryan, R.: A Meta-Analytic Review of Experiments Examining the Effects of Extrinsic Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation. Psychological Bulletin 125(6), 627–668 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth Karlin
    • 1
  • Birgit Penzenstadler
    • 2
  • Allison Cook
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social EcologyUniversity of California IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.School of Information and Computer SciencesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Story of Stuff ProjectBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations