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Translating Educational Theory Into Educational Software: A Case Study of the Adaptive Map Project

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Computers in Education Division - General Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1270.1 - 23.1270.15



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Paper Authors


Jacob P. Moore Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Jacob Moore is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

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Michel Paul Pascale

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Michel Pascale is a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and was one of the developers of the Adaptive Map project.

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Christopher B. Williams Virginia Tech

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Chris North Virginia Tech

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TRANSLATING EDUCATIONAL THEORY INTO EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE: A CASE STUDY OF THE ADAPTIVE MAP PROJECT As part of the larger Adaptive Map project, this paper discusses the process and challengesencountered translating educational theory into learning software and then evaluating thatsoftware for both usability and as a learning aid. The Adaptive Map is an organization and navigation tool for digital content, allowing a largenumber of content pages to be linked together visually into a coherent roadmap for theinformation. Replacing the table of contents or home page for traditional digital textbooks, theconcept map based system explicitly shows how each bit of information fits into the whole of thecourse with a large node-link diagram. This explicit mapping of expert knowledge structures hasbeen shown to promote conceptual understanding in students. Because concept maps becomevisually cluttered and unusable when they get too large though, an interactive visualization toolwas developed to maintain the advantages of concept maps as learning tools while managing thevisual clutter in maps that cover entire courses or even an entire curriculum. In this paper, the authors discuss the process of integrating the educational literature with theinformation visualization and usability engineering literature to understand how to best make atool that is user friendly enough that students want to use it and is built to promote learning whenit is used. The process of translating general educational theory into specific software designchoices is discussed. The challenges involved in evaluating learning software where usabilityand learning are intertwined are addressed, and preliminary results detailing the usability andlearning gains associated with the Adaptive Map are presented.

Moore, J. P., & Pascale, M. P., & Williams, C. B., & North, C. (2013, June), Translating Educational Theory Into Educational Software: A Case Study of the Adaptive Map Project Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22655

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