Leveraging Educational Software with Exploration Guides in Higher Arts Education —
the Videolab simulation case study

Eduardo Morais, Carla Morais & João C. Paiva (2019)


Availability of 'creative computing' toolkits has lowered barriers to the development by educators of complex applications, enabling the development of educational software according to their own assessments of needs. VideoLab presents such a case, an educational software designed to assist the teaching of video technology concepts in accordance to an assessment of the needs at a Film Studies program in a Portuguese higher education institution. This software combines simulations and tutorials and was designed according to principles laid out by the Multimedia Learning Theory (Mayer, 2003) and the Cognitive Load Theory (van Merriënboer & Ayres, 2005), and its use in the classroom is complemented by an exploration guide for students (cf. Paiva & Costa, 2010).

Empirical assessment of VideoLab's instructional efficacy was carried out with a total of 40 students over two school years. During specific lessons of the Editing unit, students were given the software and asked to follow the exploration guide while completing some included questions as to measure learning. Other methods were employed simultaneously, including observation by the researcher, screen recording, and a questionnaire based on the Learning Object Evaluation Scale for Students (Kay & Knaack, 2008), as to determine students' perceptions of learning value, design quality, and engagement. VideoLab was found to be an effective learning object and its design quality was found to be very acceptable. Findings from previous research on exploration guides were also replicated, in that students' close adherence to the instructions was a key to learning effectiveness.

Educational software development thus shouldn't stop at the software itself, even in the face of a 'self-sufficient' design. Consequent implications for the reusability of educational software and simulations should be considered and can indeed be a focus of future research.