Destined for use in project-based science classes, it took 4
years to develop the Model-It™ software and bring it at a point that it can
successfully fulfill the design and learning goals. The design goals that
guided the course of the software remained the same throughout all the
development stages (Jackson, Krajcik, Soloway, 2000, in Jacobson, & Kozma, 2000).
The researchers’ goals were to design a tool that:
- is learnable by middle and high school students
- allows them to easily construct models of
- build and test models of their own design, to
represent and explore their understanding of the phenomena under study
The researchers/designers evaluated the software according
to how easy it was for students to begin constructing models and remain engaged,
as well as according to whether is supported diverse populations of learners in
different learning situations.
Version 1: “Modeler 1.0” (1994)
Modeler 1.0 was developed in 1994
and the main focus was its functionality (Figure 1). By 1996, the Object Editor was added,
providing the functionality of creating new objects in the software. The next
feature added was the map view. Within the first two years of its development,
the software afforded the basic features, as well as run-time graphs showing
the changes in the objects over time.
Figure 1: One of the initial views of the software's interface.
Version 2: “Model-IT 2.1” (1996)
In version 2 there were two major
design changes that altered the feel of the software. The whole interface was
redesigned and the object window was not being used anymore, and therefore, it
was downplayed. That was replaced by a new Object button. Also, the Object
Editor was inserted, contributing to the consistency of the factor and
relationship editors, and the map view was mainly focusing on the designing of
models and their testing.
Figure 2: The Object Editor facilitates the consistency of the factor and relationship editors.
Version 3: “Model-IT 3.0”
Within the same year there had been
significant redesign changes related to scaffolding practices. A few layers of
scaffolding were added, aiming to break down the complexity of the modeling
process. Scaffolding was fadeable, so that, as students’ thinking was becoming
more complex, the process would become more challenging, accessing advanced
functionality. In this latest version there were new window features added to
scaffold learning around scientific modeling and reflection on personal
creations (Jackson, Krajcik, Soloway, 2000, in Jacobson, & Kozma, 2000, p.
82). The Help window (Figure 3c) and Notepad (Figure 3a) were added to help students with note taking
and operation the software. The new tasks after this modification included planning
of the model before developing it, as well as evaluating it; a new kind of
support for testing and debugging (Figure 3b).
The most radical changes of the software are manly visible in the third version, where there are colorful representations, and more sophisticated tools.
Figure 3a: The Notepad tool
Figure 3b: Running the simulation
Figure 3c: The Help window
Figure 4: A Table used in Jackson et al. (2000), describing the stages of Model-It™