computer lab

Designing Educational Software, part 1

The design process for educational software is fairly lengthy. Not only does the program need to be functional and visually appealing for the end user, but there are other issues involved in the design of the management system and the account administrator “dashboard,” such as how to keep accounts secure, which reports will be run on the data generated by students, and how they should be interpreted.  This is the first in a series of blog posts that reports the process we followed in creating, developing, and producing these social studies programs for a new web-based delivery system.

A Little History

Our company, WorldView Software, Inc. is a publisher of educational software products for middle and high school social studies students. The goal of our programs is to offer an inexpensive way to provide for student instruction without a printed textbook. They are not a “teacher replacement.”

In November 1990, American History was released and WorldView Software was born. Over the next 21 years, WorldView released over two dozen programs, covering the entire curriculum in social studies for middle school and high school. In 1996, WorldView began an association with Plato Learning. This deepened in 2004 when, in conjunction with Plato Learning, WorldView Software released its first Web-based product. WorldView products constitute 18 of Plato’s course models, and have been used by tens of thousands of students nationwide.

For years, educational publishers continued to design and produce textbooks and student workbooks as usual, regardless of the flexibility that software could impart. The situation became even more extreme once internet use became truly ubiquitous. Stephanie Simon and Madeline Will note in a July 23, 2013 article on Reuters.com that in essence publishers contented themselves with slapping a .pdf file of their printed textbooks up on the web, slinging in a few links to web resources and calling it a day.

As an interactive electronic textbook, learners’ responses should be stored “in the cloud” and accessible at home or in school. WorldView’s intent was to combine the extensive award-winning content of a textbook and the versatility of a workbook with all the advantages of a computer. Designing a new user interface for our programs meant moving beyond the arena of content and delving into the worlds of html/css/javascript and pedagogical research.


 

BulbgraphOnOffUse the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.

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akamran2014

Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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