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Qualities of a Well-designed Educational Application

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Disruptive Devices: Mobile Technology for Conversational Learning

Mike Sharples-

A dilemma at the heart of networked learning is that learners can command an increasingly sophisticated set of communication and computing devices, which they are forbidden to use within formal education because they disrupt lessons and lectures. Meanwhile, schools, colleges and universities are starved of IT resources, and in many cases are failing to make best use of those resources they have. This (essay) discusses how this dilemma might be resolved, through the design of mobile technology that could support effective learning within and outside the classroom.

The following are some keys to designing successful educational applications;

–  highly portable, so that they can be available wherever the user needs to learn;

–  individual, adapting to the learner’s abilities, knowledge and learning styles and designed to support personal learning, rather than general work or entertainment;

–  unobtrusive, so that the learner can capture situations and retrieve knowledge without the technology obtruding on the situation;

–  available anywhere, to enable communication with teachers, experts and peers;

–  adaptable to the context of learning and the learner’s evolving skills and knowledge;

–  persistent, to manage learning throughout a long period of time, so that the learner’s personal accumulation of resources and knowledge will be immediately accessible despite changes in technology;

–  useful, suited to everyday needs for communication, reference, work and learning;

–  intuitive to use by people with no previous experience of the technology.

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