Learner-Centered Design

 “Learner-centered software design considers the user to first be the learner with unique needs.”

 (Jackson, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000, p.2)

One of the challenges in creating modeling tools is the fact that they need to be designed in ways that meet the learning needs of the users. In creating dynamic models, the modeling environment must afford creating models from multiple complex systems transitioning from the novice levels to more expert ones. Learner-centered software design is thought to use the idea of scaffolding to support the learners’ needs and the main use of the tool is for learning, rather than for the user’s performance (Soloway et al., 1994; Quintana et al., 2000). The learner is at the same time the user of the designed product, and therefore, consideration of the learner is significant for the successful function of the tool.

In contrast with the user-centered design that emphasizes on the goals of the user and to the accomplishment of the tasks, learner-centered design considers the process of using the software, the process through which understanding is being constructed. The design of learning software must support diverse learners’ intellectual growth, and motivation (Jackson, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000; Quintana et al., 2000), and therefore, the design must such, so that the learner can be able to use the tool and be able to evolve to a more knowledgeable individual. In Jackson, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway (2000, p. 1), learner-centered design is characterized as “the new challenge for human-computer interaction, with the goal of providing support for both learning a task and doing it.”

Learner-centered design considers learning while doing; it supports learners in the ways of using the software and throughout the use of it. It also indicates how and why to do the learning tasks. The tools provided are appropriate for various learning styles and the interface that structures the task is engaging for the learners (Jackson, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000; Quintana et al., 2000). Model-It™ is based on a learner-centered design approach, as it promotes a learning process where the learner is the construction of knowledge, through a dynamic experience. It embraces the idea of designing scaffolding into software in order for the learners to be able to access complex tasks effectively (Quintana et al., 2000).