Friday, December 4, 2009

Week 14: Shifting educational systems from efficiency to sufficiency models

Presenter: Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning at Indiana University and Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University - Bloomington.

Abstract: In the nineteenth century, Horace Mann devised the Common School model as a means for the State of Massachusetts to facilitate compulsory education system based on the assembly line and using the resources and technologies available at the time. The problem Mann was interested in addressing was “how to educate all students.”

In this presentation, Dr. Bichelmeyer will demonstrate that at this time in history, with new technologies and new resources, the question educational reformers should be asking is no longer “how to educate all students”, but rather, “how to educate each student?” New technologies and new resources are causing shifts in other sectors including government, non-profit, media, journalism and retail to sufficiency models, while educators continues to seek solutions to old problems using old models, without recognizing the landscape has shifted so much that the important problems involve new questions and require new models for solution.

Dr. Bichelmeyer’s grant-based research has recently focused on the study of distance learning environments in graduate education and blended learning environments in high schools and community colleges. In particular she has been leading the design, development and evaluation of online advance degrees in Instructional Systems Technology (masters’ level) and leading the evaluation of Cisco Networking Academy blended learning environments. As an administrator she has been involved with the development of policy and practice, strategic planning, and coordination of intercampus initiatives for undergraduate education.

Dr. Bichelmeyer holds four degrees from the University of Kansas, including a Bachelor of Science in Journalism (1982), Bachelor of Arts in English (1986), Master of Science in Educational Policy and Administration (1988) and a PhD in Educational Communications and Technology (1991).

Facilitator: Cennet Altiner

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 13: Educational Websites for Elementary Age Children

Presenter: Becky Popelka, candidate for MFA in Graphic Design

Effective Design of Educational Websites for Elementary Age Children: A User-Centered Study


Many educational websites for elementary age students exist on the internet today, however there is a need for more research to be completed into order to determine the level of effectiveness with which these sites operate. The goal of this research and design project is to identify usability and aesthetic problems that exist and consequently solve those problems. This research study was conducted in three stages. The first stage consisted of an analysis of a current, popular educational website, www.funbrain .com, to distinguish potential problems with the navigation, information architecture, and visual appearance, based on previously published research. A set of hypotheses and a new site design is proposed based on the correction of these problems. The second stage involves testing both websites with students in grades two through five. Twelve students participated in the preference measure testing in which students used both sites to complete the same objective and offered their opinions as to which they preferred in terms of ease of use, visual appearance and enjoyment. Ten students participated in the performance measures testing which used time on task and error and assistance analysis to compare the two websites. The data obtained from the testing was analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods and a set of recommendations for effective design of educational websites for elementary age children was developed based on the findings drawn from data. The third and final stage of the project involves a second iteration of the website redesign which incorporates the recommendations from the second stage. One of the most compelling findings revealed that while the redesigned site was easier for the students to use, the ease of use did not automatically dictate the student’s preference in terms of visual appearance or enjoyment. The most important conclusion drawn from this study is the need to balance user preferences with ease of use to create an interface which is both appealing and effective.

Facilitator: Ester Mukete