Designing E-Learning Applications with Students: The Case of the We!Design Methodology

Designing E-Learning Applications with Students: The Case of the We!Design Methodology

George N. Triantafyllakos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), George E. Palaigeorgiou (University of Thessaly, Greece) and Ioannis A. Tsoukalas (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-940-3.ch007

Abstract

In years past, many methodological approaches, methods and techniques have been implemented based on the belief that users can and should be involved in the design process of technology products that affect them. Inspired by the findings of research involving users and particularly students at diverse levels and phases of the design process of technology products, we have developed the We!Design methodology, a student-centered participatory design methodology that assigns students a primary role in the design process. We present the various phases of the We!Design methodology, examine the results of its application in four different design projects (a web-based e-assessment application for tertiary education, a course website, an e-Portfolio application, and a Tablet-PC-based e-assessment application for secondary education) and elaborate upon our overall experiences with the methodology during the past 3 years. Participant evaluations indicated that the We!Design methodology was an adequate means for successful elicitation of students’ needs and their application in educational software design.
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Designing Educational Technology Products With Children

While the literature is quite rich in case studies of adult users participating in the design of technology products (e.g. Bødker et al., 1991; Muller, 1991), it is nevertheless limited when it comes to children as participants (Nesset & Large, 2004). There are two main reasons why this is the case. The first and most important reason is that children are an extremely diverse and special user group per se. Markopoulos & Bekker (2003) adopt Akuff and Reiher’s four developmental stages to distinguish the following age groups for children: (a) the dependency/exploratory stage (ages birth–2 years), (b) the emerging-autonomy stage (ages 3–7), (c) the rule/role stage (ages 8–12), and (d) early and late adolescence (age 13 upwards). Each age group is characterized by its specific cognitive abilities, social behavior patterns, relations, preferences in technology products and interfaces, and so on. Thus, it is imperative that any team involved in design projects that plans to involve children in the design process should establish beforehand a deep understanding of children’s cognitive, social and developmental traits and adapt its methods and techniques to the corresponding age group.

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