Revisiting variation affordance: Applying variation theory in the design of educational software

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

Variation theory, which is a theory of learning developed by Marton and others, has quickly become popular in education research. Our purpose of this paper is to articulate the application of variation theory in the form of a number of concrete design principles that offer prescriptive and practical guidelines for improving the designs of educational software programs. To achieve this, we analyzed a wide range of educational software programs produced over the years in our previous projects for learning Chinese characters. From this analysis, we identified four design principles, namely, (i) not aiming to test but to bring about learning, (ii) focusing on a specific object of learning, (iii) allowing learners to explore variation to be learned, and (iv) keeping all other aspects invariant. These design principles are specialized for designing how learners interact with educational software programs, which is the major practical contribution of this paper. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInteractive Learning Environments
Early online dateSep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sep 2019

Citation

Lam, H. C. (2019). Revisiting variation affordance: Applying variation theory in the design of educational software. Interactive Learning Environments. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/10494820.2019.1668812

Keywords

  • Design of educational software
  • Design principles
  • Instructional design
  • Phenomenography
  • Variation theory

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