Leveraging natural interaction and direct manipulation as catalyzers of digital evolution in education
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offers multiple possibilities for creating educational activities and implementing them in classrooms. The `Survey of Schools: ICT in Education¿ sheds light on the use of ICT in education. Firstly, most students think that the use of technology during their learning process is interesting. They are motivated to learn through this approach since they can use ICT to perform tasks on several devices, not only in the classroom, but also at their homes. Secondly, the educational sector agrees on the relevance that ICT could have in carrying out different activities, in addition to the positive impact it could exert on students. However, only between 20-25% of students use ICT in the classroom. In this regard, a study conducted by the Instituto de Técnicas Educativas in Spain showed that 45% of teachers do not use ICT due to their lack of training, and that 31% do not use ICT because they feel insecure. In addition, the wide range of educational tools available makes it difficult to choose the appropriate one for each scenario. Therefore, it is necessary to provide the education sector with tools which are flexible, can be adapted to their needs, and are easy to use by users without advanced technical knowledge. In this context, this work has been carried out with the goal of evaluating which features of an application could be important when being effectively used by teachers, as well as the benefits that the inclusion of technology could offer to students in childhood education, primary education and special needs education. In general, this work is oriented towards the evaluation of three factors: i) providing appropriate tools which allow the creation of content without technology being an obstacle during the design process; ii) exploring the benefits of the new interaction paradigm provided by new devices, such as touch interaction; and iii) studying the adaptability of content so that users can generate different learning scenarios without having to change that content. To study these factors, we have implemented and used an authoring tool ¿ DEDOS-Editor ¿ to create educational activities, and two players ¿ DEDOS-Player and DEDOS-Web ¿ which enable the use of these activities on most of the devices available on the market. These players also allow several additional parameters to be configured which facilitate the reshaping of the activities in order to create different learning scenarios and adapt them to the pedagogical needs which exist in the various education levels where these tools are used. To test the benefits of ICT in the classroom, we conducted experiments with students from three educational levels to compare the effectiveness of touch technology devices versus traditional learning methods. The studies carried out aim to evaluate whether touch technology ¿ which is widely used in society ¿ could act as a bridge to integrate ICT in education. In this scenario, its use with educational goals is not widespread among young students who could benefit from the interaction offered by touch devices that require neither a mouse nor a keyboard. Reviewing the literature, not much can be found regarding empirical studies that help to understand how technological resources could be integrated in classrooms, and which benefits they could offer to students¿ learning. On the one hand, the evaluation of DEDOS-Editor shows how the ease with which users ¿ in our case future teachers ¿ learn to use an authoring tool to create their own digital content is impacted by the tool¿s interface and the creation metaphor used. The data gathered in this work shows how a direct manipulation paradigm and a consistent creation metaphor for creating activities enables users who have experience with the tool to become experts in a short amount of time. On the other hand, the learning experiments across several education levels ¿ childhood education, primary education and special needs education ¿ shed light on the possible benefits that technology could offer to these students. The flexibility of DEDOS-Editor and DEDOS-Player allowed educational activities to be carried out in different learning levels and enabled diverse learning scenarios to be created. The results show that students who used technological elements experienced better learning than those students who solved the activities in a more traditional way. Moreover, several teachers who were initially sceptical about the use of technology by young students later recognised the benefits of using technology in the classroom, causing them to consider using such technology regularly.
Tesis Doctoral leída en la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid en 2017. Directores de la Tesis: Estefanía Martín Barroso y Manuel García-Herranz del Olmo
- Tesis Doctorales 
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