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The teaching and learning of a complex section in Theoretical Computer Science 1 in a distanceeducation context has been enhanced by a supplementary interactive e-learning system with tutorial and practice functionality in a classic computer-aided instruction (CAI) style. A participative action research process was used to develop, evaluate and refine the application over a longitudinal period. Case studies are presented of evaluations by four different methods – questionnaire surveys, interviews, heuristic evaluation and a post-test. Their respective findings, relating to functionality, usability and contributions to learning, are given and discussed. The findings lead to reflection and lessons are learned regarding the design of e-learning applications. In an overview, the complementary roles of different evaluation techniques are di...
Computing systems require rigo rous evaluation both of functionality and usability. Evaluation of software within the growing e-learning sector is currently receiving attention. Relevant aspects are evaluation paradigms, techniques, and the issue of who does the evaluating. Squires and Preece developed a set of ‘learning with software’ heuristics to be used by experts/educators in predictive evaluation prior to adopting a system. These were adapted for post -production end-user evaluation of an operational e-learning tutorial lesson, Relations, used in Theoretical Computer Science. Findings are given from a questionnaire survey among learners. This process evaluated the artifact, and also reflectively confirmed the utility of the evaluation technique and criteria. Lessons have also been learned for the future development of educational...
Undergraduate software engineering students are often required to participate in problem-based learning (PBL) and team-based project work. Assessment of information communication and technology (ICT) project deliverables contributes a major portion of the course mark. Collaboration and communication are supported to some extent by mobile hand-held devices, yet are limited by the digital divide created from not all students having access to smartphone devices and mobile Internet connectivity. This study describes the findings of a mobile learning and digital divide (MLDD) survey undertaken by the primary researcher as part of an ICT4D 2.0 project. The survey investigated the nature and extent of the digital divide between software engineering students on two Western Cape campuses of the same tertiary education institution. A survey que...
Digital Doorways are rugged computer terminals that offer unassisted learning and peer-assisted learning of basic computer skills, as well as a range of computing activities from entertainment, through education, to independent research. Sites are located in impoverished areas of South Africa at schools, colleges and public community facilities. Usage is free of charge and available to the entire community. This paper poses research questions relating to application usage data and how it relates to user demographics, in order to better understand both the user base and the nature and extent of interaction with a selected set of terminals. This study thus addresses significant issues with respect to ICT for Education and Development in the Digital Doorway context. Analysis of the data indicates notable trends and patterns, and raises ce...
This paper introduces the computer-aided instruction (CAI) tutorial Karnaugh, outlining its design, development and evaluation. Karnaugh is used for supplementary learning in the module Computer Systems: Fundamental Concepts. E-learning applications require rigorous evaluation of their functionality, learning content and usability. In the case of Karnaugh, this was done in a participative action research approach over two years. Evaluation and reflection occurred in iterative cycles, followed by active responses in the form of revised designs, with the researcher-designer playing a participative role as Karnaugh evolved through five variants. Complementary usability evaluation methods were used, namely heuristic evaluation, end-user questionnaires and interviews. The evaluation criteria were based on an adaptation of Squires & Preeces’...
An academic group and discussion forum were established on Facebook for a cohort of postgraduate students studying the concepts and principles of eLearning. The Forum had a constructivist, student-centric ethos, in which students initiated topics for discussion, while the course leader and administrator facilitated. Previous research has been conducted, involving content analysis of the topics and academic discourse, but the present study focuses on social aspects, investigating social- and study-related pursuits and determining whether synergy can exist between them. A literature review shows how social networking by students, initially social, began to overlap with academia, leading to the use of groups for academic purposes and forums for subject-related discussions. In the present study, data was triangulated and two methods of dat...
The learnability principle relates to improving the usability of software, as well as the user’s performance and productivity. The latter suggest that the principle was formulated mainly with the adult user group in mind. Children represent an important user group, but fewer guidelines exist for their educational and entertainment applications. This study compares these groups, addressing the question: ‘Does learnability of software interfaces have a different meaning for children and adults?’ A literature survey conducted on learnability and learning processes, considered the meaning of learnability across generations. In an empirical investigation, users aged from 9 to 12 and from 35 to 50 were observed in a usability laboratory while learning to use educational software applications. Eye tracking data was also recorded. Insights eme...
Virtual reality is a rapidly growing technology which utilises the ever-increasing power of computers to simulate real-world and imaginary environments and situations with a high degree of realism and interactiveness. Safety in the South African mining industry is a vital issue. On average, one worker dies every working day, and about 16 are injured in mine-related accidents. Inadequate or insufficient training is often cited as a root cause for many mining fatalities. However, training outside the direct working environment provides only limited real-life opportunities and may fail to make a significant impact within the tense working environment itself. Virtual reality-based training tools can, by contrast, provide simulated exposure to real-world working conditions without the associated risks. This paper discusses contextual requir...
the context in which it is used, and its appropriateness to that context. According to the ISO definition of usability, the context of use includes the users, tasks, equipment (hardware, software and materials), and the physical and social environments in which a product is used. Context analysis provides a framework to ensure that all factors which may affect the usability of a product are considered. Safety in the South African mining industry is a vital issue. On average, one worker dies every working day, and about 16 are injured in mine-related accidents. Inadequate or insufficient training is often cited as a root cause for many mining fatalities. However, training outside the direct working environment provides only limited real-life opportunities and may fail to make a significant impact within the tense working environment...
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