Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4958-4965
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 paper presents a model for design and development of educational software for users with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The model is based on a general model for Educational Software Design and Development (ESDD), devised with the co-authorship of the author. The design and development of software for users with SEN require one to know both general and educational problems with respect to ESDD and the needs and abilities of the target group. Except knowledge about software design it is very important one to know also how to design educational products as a whole.

The paper is based on the experience of the author with two elective bachelor higher education courses, taught regularly at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” – “Design, Development, and Evaluation of Educational Software” and “IT in Education of Children with SEN”.

The paper gives first an overview of the general ESDD model. The general model combines components of instructional design (ID) with software design (SD) to ensure the quality of educational part of the software. This model has six stages – needs analysis, audience analysis, task analysis, design, implementation, and testing and evaluation. They describe the main steps in the design and development of educational software.

Adapting ESDD model to the needs of Special Educational Software Design and Development (SESDD) require some changes. The main change affect the order of the ESDD model stages. Because of the specific characteristics of the target group in SESDD the first thing that we need is to make audience analysis. This change is very important because when we talk about SESDD we mean design of educational product for the concrete user’s group with defined type of disability, specific problems that it causes and specific needs that arise. It is impossible to design software for users with SEN as a whole, because each disability causes specific problems and brings about specific needs. The knowledge of users’ abilities and problems help us to identify their needs. At first we identify the users’ group and then their needs. Therefore in this case before to make needs analysis we need first to make an audience analysis. So, the first stage in SESDD become audience analysis. In this stage the type and degree of disability of target group is defined, and what kind of problems, both physical and educational, it causes. This is the basis on which in the second stage (needs analysis) we define users’ needs. Then we determine which of these needs are most important, how they can be met through education and how computers can be effectively included to support it.

In the first stage there is one more very important step which is missing in the ESDD model. It concerns defining some general software requirements, related mainly to software and system accessibility, based on the users’ type of disability. These requirements are essential for users with SEN who needs special devices, or custom software, or system settings to access a computer. These requirements are applied in the fourth stage of the SESDD model – design, where the software functionalities are defined.

Except described changes in the first two stages, the next stages in SESDD are the same as in the ESDD model. We keep the same stages but we change their order and relations and add some additional software accessibility requirements essential for users with SEN.
Educational software development, special needs education, software design model, special needs software.