USING ANIMATION SOFTWARE TO TEACH SCHOOL INFORMATICS: TECHNICAL AND PEDAGOGICAL EVALUATION
University of Agder (NORWAY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The increased availability of digital tools has given teachers new possibilities in teaching school informatics. However, there is little research conducted on the extent to which those tools are appropriate for teaching school informatics and what criteria should be the basis for evaluating their learning impact. Students use digital tools in various learning situations, and they learn gradually to master a number of software programs, such as animation software, and visualization and simulation programs, etc. In school education, the use of digital tools is as one of the five basic skills of the New National Curriculum from 2006 across all subjects. The curriculum requires that students acquire digital literacy at various school levels, including the tools’ potentialities and limitations, as well as copyright, privacy and ethical issues. In addition to digital tools that support learning activities, students are required to use information technologies to communicate through email, social media, Facebook, and blogs and search for information on the Internet. As a result, students must have opportunities to practice their digital skills, deepen their understanding of the tools, and become more digitally literate in various contexts.
The New National Curriculum from 2006 established school informatics as a new school subject in its own. School informatics, also called Information Technology, is divided into Information Technology I and II. Information Technology I includes four topics: Digital equipment, programming, multimedia applications, and Web development I. Information Technology II includes three topics: Information systems design, databases, and Web development II. School informatics is in many ways a practical subject that facilitates learning and teaching processes, and it has a strong link to multimedia, Web technology, databases, and design subjects. Throughout IT courses, students should gain experience on how text, images, sounds and animations can be manipulated and treated to design animation applications in informatics education that can be used in classroom to support learning processes. Nevertheless, there is little research on the evaluation of digital tools in terms of learning effects. Clearly, school informatics requires a greater focus on evaluating the quality and usefulness of digital tools both from a technical and pedagogical point of view.
With this mind, this paper assesses the extent to which animation software is suitable for teaching school informatics. The software enables students to express their creativity through animated videos using a Flash Animation program. The software was used in two courses at a secondary school level. To assess the usefulness of the software, a set of technical and pedagogical usability criteria have been identified. Technical usability criteria aim at measuring how easy it is to use the software, and navigate through it. Pedagogical usability criteria are needed to assess the extent to which the software contributes to increased motivation, learning and activity, interaction, variety, differentiation, collaboration, and congruence with curriculum goals. The two aspects of usability are closely related to each other.
The results achieved so far revealed that students (N=52) rated the technical and pedagogical usability as good in terms of ease-of-use, engagement in motivating and enjoyable activities, variation, collaboration, and learning effect.
Keywords: Animation software, pedagogical usability, school informatics, technical usability.