N. 23, Winter 2014

Table of contentsAuthor index


Preface to the Special Issue


To realize successful Technology Enhanced Learning products, designers should consider as mandatory its usability, accessibility and pedagogical effective. It is then clear that designing TEL products requires expertise from different research field (among others, Human Computer Interaction, Medicine, Psychology and Pedagogy) and knowledge of methodologies that base design decisions on empirical evidence and the involvement of real users. 

Within this context, the TEL4U special issue looked for contributions describing how empirical evidence or the involvement of real users in the design process allowed TEL researchers to produce accessible, usable and pedagogically effective TEL products. TEL4U also sought contributions to TEL from contiguous research areas such as smart cities, cognitive systems and robotics, technologies for digital content and languages, inclusion and governance, creativity and learning.

The issue sought contributions from authors of the best papers presented at the 3rd International Workshop on Evidenced Based and User centred Technology Enhanced Learning workshop (ebuTEL 2013), held in Trento (Italy) on September 16th 2013, launched under the collaborative frame provided by the European FP7 TERENCE project (www.terenceproject.eu), as well as best papers from the off-spring of the workshop, namely, the Methodology and Intelligent Systems for Technology Enhanced Learning International Conference (MIS4TEL 2014), held in Salamanca (Spain) on June 4th-6th, 2014. The issue was also widely advertised so as to intercept novel work, relevant and not yet published at ebTEL 2013 and MIS4TEL2014, discussing intelligent systems for TEL and empirical methodologies for their design or evaluation.


The acceptance rate of this issue was circa 40%. A number of submitted papers were of good quality and we faced the hard challenge of choosing which papers to keep and which to discard; we finally chose to accept those that were definitely relevant for the issue scopes. We hope that the reviewers’ comments were helpful also for the authors of these papers. In the end, this IxD&A issue brings together contributions concerning the involvement of users in the design activities and the formative and summative evaluations of TEL systems at different stages of maturity, with studies of researchers in computer science and human computer interaction as well as researchers in psychology or education stakeholders to improve on their students' learning experience. 


The majority of the papers in this issue are concerned with the evaluation of mature online learning tools, or with the early design of TEL systems and how this is grounded in empirical evidence. Ragbir-Shripat and Mohan present a context of use study of an assessment system for creativity, taking into account the views of experts. Del Fatto et al. deal with perception data concerning students’ experience with a blended learning approach to computer science subjects, based on Moodle. de la Prieta et al. outline a study concerning the design of an agent-based architecture, which uses the advantages provided by Cloud Computing platforms in order to tackle open issues of the Learning Object paradigm. Cecilia et al. revisit results of the TERENCE learning system for children, concerning the assessment of its usability and pedagogical effectiveness. Harchai et. al. propose a Service-based framework for bringing assessment techniques to mobile environment. Williams and Valla advance methods for asynchronous remote usability testing. Bedek et al. describe the formative evaluation activities that were designed and implemented during the development of the weSPOT inquiry based learning platform. Following current trends in the literature, several such papers report on the learners’ emotional engagement with TEL products, their perceptions or preferences. In this line, it is interesting to consider the contribution to this issue that focuses on the so-called achievement emotions, related to achievement activities or outcomes: the paper by Roccanello et al. reports on the development and validation of a novel instrument for collecting achievement emotion data. These are documented to have an important influence on learning and engagement in traditional learning contexts, but their impact within technological environments has not been deeply explored, yet; thereby the paper offers food for thought for TEL researchers and practitioners concerning achievement emotions and their value for future TEL research. 


No journal issue, no proceedings, no good scientific work could ever be possible without the work of careful and skilled reviewers. This is particularly true for this IxD&A issue: reviewers did an extensive review work. We feel thankful to them for coping with our deadlines, and for putting up with us.


The IxD&A editor and staff were also helpful with our requests till the very last day. Thank you all for your assistance. Now, when our work as guest editors is over, we leave in readers’ hands a special issue that was bred on several seeds, in which we firmly believe: interdisciplinarity, empirical studies, sound design principles, and people. We hope that readers will enjoy reading this multi-facet special issue, dedicated to the evidence-based and user-centred design of TEL.


Juan Manuel Corchado, Fernando de la Prieta Pintado, Tania di Mascio, Rosella Gennari, Pierpaolo Vittorini