The educational experiences of software designers working in education/instructional technology related fields
Marisa E. Exter, Indiana University, United States
Indiana University . Awarded
As custom-built educational software becomes ever more complex, there is an increasing need for software design skills (including software architecture, business and technical requirements gathering, high- and low-level design, and programming) to produce high-quality software. However, it is unclear whether there is a typical educational path for computing professionals working on this area, or to what degree these software designers feel that domain-specific knowledge is required in order to succeed in this area. This three-phase mixed-methods study explores the formal (university) and non-formal (including work-sponsored, self-taught, and informal) educational experiences of software designers currently working in this field. Gaps between what is needed on the job and what is taught in school are highlighted, and participants' recommendations for improving educational programs to prepare students for entering this field are summarized. Implications for researchers, educators, and hiring managers are discussed.
Findings indicate that software design professionals come from variety of backgrounds, which include multiple formal educational paths and a wide variety of life experiences. Computing fields (such as Computer Science) and Instructional Design are two common starting points for professionals in this field. Regardless of formal educational background software designers typically play a number of roles over time, both within and outside of educational software development. Participants indicate that critical thinking, communication skills, and the ability to learn on one's own are among the most important competencies needed on the job, and that these should be taught alongside Computing and/or Instructional Design foundations. Recommendations for educational programs focus on developing those skills through real-world experiences such as team projects.
Exter, M.E. The educational experiences of software designers working in education/instructional technology related fields. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University.
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