Title: Designed for learners: applying software engineering to the development of scaffolded educational software

Authors: Kathleen Luchini, Chris Quintana, Joseph Krajcik, Elliot Soloway

Addresses: University of Michigan, 1101 Beal Ave., Ann Arbour MI 48109, USA. University of Michigan, 1101 Beal Ave., Ann Arbour MI 48109, USA. University of Michigan, 1101 Beal Ave., Ann Arbour MI 48109, USA. University of Michigan, 1101 Beal Ave., Ann Arbour MI 48109, USA

Abstract: We have developed a software engineering process for the design of scaffolded work environments, or SWEets. This process is inspired by the principles of learner-centered design (LCD), which is an approach that recognises learners as a unique group of novice users who must be supported in learning the content and work practices of an unfamiliar domain. SWEets provide this support through the use of scaffolds, which are tools and techniques used to support learners in completing an activity that would otherwise be too difficult or complex. We describe our software engineering methodology for designing SWEets for any educational domain, and look specifically at two case studies of SWEets developed for desktop and handheld platforms. We describe the design of Symphony, a desktop SWEet that provides process scaffolding to support students engaged in complex scientific investigations, and discuss the results of a classroom study of the software. We also look at the development of Pocket PiCoMap, a tool to support students who are using handheld computers to create concept maps, and discuss an ongoing study of the use of mobile handheld devices with wireless internet access in a middle-school science classroom.

Keywords: learner-centred design; scaffolded work environments; inquiry; handheld computers; educational software.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2003.003268

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2003 Vol.13 No.3/4, pp.366 - 386

Published online: 15 Dec 2003 *

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