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Designing for Education: an iPad Case Study


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Tablet technology is widely touted as the next wave in education. Last year, many school districts shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new technology. With hundreds of educational-focused applications available in the iTunes or Google Play stores, one may assume that these applications are superior to the traditional methods. Educators cite the engaging and motivational benefits of the iPad and other technologies in student learning. With this question in mind, a team of researchers at Bentley University compared the engagement benefits from traditional paper-based books and a tablet interactive text application “Inkling.” Participants explored this new interactive textbook – Inkling – and the same content in a traditional paper textbook. The case study explored the pros and cons in moving beyond traditional education methods. For our research, we worked with higher education students who owned and used an iPad regularly. We gauged their emotional engagement in the education activities – or ‘homework’ assignments – throughout the sessions. We obtained their emotional engagement data by combining SMI’s eye-tracking technology with Affectiva’s Q-Sensor galvanic system measurement gloves and Microsoft Product Reaction cards. Using this technology, we were able to pinpoint the moments in which students had an emotion response (engagement) with the tasks. At the end of each session, we discussed the qualitative aspects of the interactions, including participants’ expectations and experiences using the iPad and traditional paper textbook to complete the tasks. Our hypothesis was that the iPad interactive reading technology would be more engaging to students and consequently be a better tool to aid their education. In our presentation at the UPA Boston Conference, we will present the sometimes contradictory findings from our case study. We will make recommendations based on these findings for designers – for both traditional textbooks and digital textbooks to keep in mind. We will also explore several open questions our field must tackle as we continue to migrate educational materials to digital forms.

Published in: Design, Education, Technology

Designing for Education: an iPad Case Study

  1. Designing for Education: an iPad Case Study
  2. Agenda • What We’ve Studied • The Study – Research method – Study method • Findings – What we learned – What this means to you Please interrupt us with questions as we go!© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  3. What We’ve Studied
  4. How it all started • Idea from World Usability Day 2011 theme (Education) • In November, presented in detail about research methods Today we are excited to share our findings from the study!© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  5. Education and Tablet Technology • Pilot programs on using tablets in schools and higher education are underway – NYC, Chicago, Virginia, California, Boston and internationally – About 1.5 million iPads are in use in school settings using more than 20,000 education applications – Intended to be used at home and school in place of textbooks – Perceived benefits include • Light-weight • Variety of applications • Interactive Learning • Few studies done on student education through tablets Sources: 1. NY Times, Math That Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad (1/2012) 2., Schools eager to launch iPad era of learning© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai (2/2012)
  6. Digital Reading • 20% of the US market is aware of and downloading paid-for e-books • Starting in 2011, e-books outpaced print book sales on Amazon Sources: 1.Bowker’s Results of Global eBook Research (3/2012)© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai 2. NY Times, E-Books Outsell Print Books at Amazon (5/2011)
  7. Our Study
  8. Research Question • Are students more engaged learning on a digital book or a printed book? • How can designers and researchers optimize the benefits of tablet technology while designing for digital books?© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  9. Subject of Study • Pearson’s ‘Access to Health’ and ‘Nutrition’ • Inkling Interactive Digital Textbook Technology allows for advanced interactions (i.e. search, notes, highlighting) Digital Book Paper Book© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  10. Research Methods Applied • Affectiva’s Q Sensor • SMI Eye tracking • Microsoft Product Reaction Cards© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  11. Q Sensor: Measuring EDA Q Sensor Created by Affectiva, a company founded by MIT Media Lab faculty and students What is the Q-Sensor? A wireless biosensor that measures emotional stimulation via skin conductance (Electro Dermal Activity).© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  12. SMI Eye Tracking • Binocular tracking delivers eye tracking data over all distances • Advantageous for use on mobile or tablet devices© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  13. Microsoft Product Reaction Cards • A set of 118 words – 60% positive – 40% negative/neutral • Does not rely on a questionnaire or rating scales • Users don’t need to generate words themselves© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  14. Recruiting & Session Structure • Recruiting – Create online questionnaire with filters – Identify distribution channels – Organize schedule for participants • Setting up Study Session – Prepare scenarios and tasks – Conduct pilot study – Prepare moderator’s guide© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  15. Participants • Identified 10 undergraduate students who owned iPads and used the internet at least 10 hours per week • iPad activities included: – Accessing the web, checking email, gaming and social networking – Additional activities included eBooks, music, course maintenance, movies and looking at PowerPoints during class© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  16. Study Method • Pre-task questions – Warm-up participants – Collect information on their tablet usage activities • Within-subjects study – Each participant performed tasks on a paper textbook and then on the digital textbook on the iPad – Counter-balanced between starting with the digital and paper textbook • Post-task questions – Qualitative metrics on ease of use and preferences – Repeated after each textbook type© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  17. Findings
  18. Emotional Stimulation Results • 102 data points from 10 participants • Higher average peaks per minute(PPM) for Paper textbook than Digital textbook • Infer higher cognitive load for paper textbook • Higher PPM for paper textbook for 6 out of 7 tasks© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  19. Microsoft Reaction Cards: Digital Book© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  20. Microsoft Reaction Cards: Printed book© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  21. Quotes about Digital Textbook “I might tired of looking “I like how you can just at the screen and the tap and go to the page” textbook would be more comfortable” “With the iPad I have to “I can use the search swipe and swipe and function to find stuff” swipe and swipe” “You wouldnt ruin the “I can change the view page by highlighting on the iPad easily and and taking notes on the minimize pictures” iPad”© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  22. Quotes about Printed Textbook “The battery doesnt die. “I dont think the book The textbook is more did a good job of pointing reliable” out stuff” “The books are heavier to “If its on paper, its carry and the lighting is always there” also important for the textbook” “It was nice to have the book through to flip “Can re-sell or share the through and look at. It books. It is also cheaper. was more personal and Not a big deal if I lose it” reliable”© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  23. What would you prefer to use?© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  24. What we learned • Participants had mixed feelings about textbook reading on the digital vs. the paper textbook – Financial reasons – Freedom and comfort – Reliability – Searching & navigating content – Supplemental research© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  25. Take Aways for Digital Reading Apps • Design Recommendations – Make search and navigation a top priority – Integrate web access & capabilities – Minimizing the ‘swiping’ actions • Issues to Explore – Resale & loan opportunities for digital textbooks – Battery efficiency of reading application • Combining new methods yield interesting results© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai
  26. Questions? Thank you to our sponsors! The Design and Usability Center Contact: Amanda Davis –© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai Vignesh Krubai –
  27. Appendix
  28. Results • Statistical Analysis of QSensor Data • P-value = 0.23(90% Confidence Interval) Average Peaks per Minute Average Peaks per Minute per10.0 Task 9.0 10.0 8.0 7.0 8.0 6.0 5.0 6.0 4.0 Paper Book 4.0 3.0 iPad Book 2.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 Paper Book iPad Book T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7© Copyright Amanda Davis & Vignesh Krubai