University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 8204-8211
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The vulgarization of the Internet has reached to a level that the majority of people spend the days "hooked" on numerous gadgets that allow for them to be connected with the world, 24 of 24 hours. This new way of life is supported by the Internet or by practical applications that changed the image people had about using ICT. One of the many consequences of this was the introduction, quite early, of ICT also in the life of children through the use of games or other applications such as Play-i, Primo or Robot Turtles. As well, all over the world, the first cycle of studies of educational systems also was addressed. Such an attitude was justified with the argument that this encourages the development of children themselves as well as their reasoning ability and logical thinking. One of the most relevant examples we found in this area is called for CODE.ORG ( 2012), an initiative that attempts to teach young students to use programming languages in the development of computer programs. All the tools this initiative uses are simple and quite educational. However, despite its importance and current impact, none of them works with problems or situations that need to explore a conventional database system. As we know these systems are crucial elements in almost software applications. To know how to explore them efficiently is a clear advantage in the ICT world. Despite the huge number of systems especially oriented to explore databases, we do not found one that satisfies the most basic functional requisites to be used by a child. In some way, all of them require specialized knowledge and skills on database systems to be used, requiring often some experience with a database language such as SQL. Taking this into consideration, we design and develop a visual explore for database systems that can be used by everyone, from 7 to 77, in an intuitive and easy way, getting immediate results – a new database querying experience. Our basic goal was to provide to young students a very intuitive way to querying a database system and use the information they get in practical situations as they use today a Web browser. The database explorer we implemented provides a very simple querying environment to their users. To use it, users only need to understand the semantics of the database they want to use and the database objects that are stored and available for exploration. To get this will be always simple, since the system provides “by touch” such information. The system uses circles (and sometimes other geometric figures) to represent database objects in a querying board. They assume different sizes and colours accordingly the data they represent and contain. Then, for querying the database we only need to “touch” the objects we want to consult or to combine. For instance, to combine the information of two different objects - making a join operation - we just need to overlap their circles and the system will “guess” what we want, applying an inner join (or other join if it is the case) automatically, showing the results in tables or in charts. Other conventional database operations (e.g. product, union, intersection, filtering, view creation, etc.) are done similarly, using different combinations with the geometric figures. In this paper we will expose the main characteristics and features of the visual database explorer we developed, showing how it works and how it can be used to do the most current operations over a database by a user.
Teaching and Learning Tools, Database Systems, Database Querying Interfaces, Database Visual Explorers.