New Course on Mobile User Experience Design; Technology in Education: How Much Does Technology Affect Students' Learning?

Tran, Tien, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Floryan, Mark, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Nguyen, Rich, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Bloomfield, Aaron, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Technology is expanding the concept of what the classroom can be. Due to the rapid growth and accessibility of mobile devices, the technical project proposes a new course on user experience for mobile devices. Current courses at the University of Virginia briefly discuss the importance of usable interfaces, but none tackle the issue of usability on mobile devices. The STS research seeks to analyze how technology can potentially hinder the learning outcomes among students in higher education. The Social Construction of Technology is used to discuss the social adoption of educational technology and provide a solution on how technology can enhance student learning. The STS research along with the technical project together aim to provide engineers with a better understanding how various tools can affect the overall usability of technology and how such technology can affect the learning of students in higher education.
As mentioned in the introduction, many people around the world now have access to mobile devices. However, with the rapid expansion of mobile devices, there are still web applications that are not adapted to work on mobile interfaces. As examples, small button and font sizes can prevent mobile users from accomplishing their goals which could be potentially dangerous as many people using mobile devices are not in stationary positions. Because of these issues, a new course was proposed as part of the technical project. The course, Mobile User Experience Design, focuses on the usage of tools such as responsive and adaptive design, mobile first design, and user research to create web applications that do not compromise in mobile usability. To design the course, aspects of current courses offered at the University of Virginia such as Mobile Application Development, Programming Languages for Web Applications, and HCI in software development were taken, and documentary research methods were used to gather resources about mobile usability. From designing this course, the goal is to provide future engineers and developers with the tools to create usable mobile interfaces as mobile devices continue to evolve.
The STS research analyzes the evolution of educational technology and how such technologies affect the learning of students in higher education. Technology has shown to help some students perform better academically, but not all technologies serve all students equally which poses the question: why do some students’ grades suffer through the use of educational technology? To answer this question, documentary research methods were used to gather primary resources on the topic, and the Social Construction of Technology was used to analyze the social adoption of educational technology. Additionally, well-known news outlets were used as sources to draw from different viewpoints and how the media perceives educational technology.
From the research, it was outlined that there were three hindrances to student learning in higher education: distraction, quality of notes, and cheating. These three issues were a product of the development process neglecting to include the primary users throughout the production of such technology. At the end of the research, a new model for product development was proposed which focuses on the collaboration with primary users during the development and testing phases. Technology has the ability to enhance the flexibility, accessibility, interactivity, and motivation of students acting as a conduit for participation and learning. However, when not developed well or used correctly, technology also has the potential to hinder students from receiving the correct learning outcomes.
In conclusion, the technical project aims to guide future engineers in the right direction by taking into consideration mobile interfaces in their design processes. The STS research’s goal is to highlight how technology can potentially hinder the learning outcomes of students in higher education and provide a potential solution to prevent such issues from happening. Used together, engineers and developers will have the tools necessary to design interfaces to have the most positive impact on learning outcomes for students.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
SCOT, Mobile Usability, Educational Technology, Software Development, Responsive Design

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Mark Floryan
STS Advisor: Catherine D. Baritaud

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: