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Software Engineering is the branch of Computer Science dealing with engineering principles and programming languages as they apply to software development. These principles include analyzing user requirements and then designing, building, and testing software to satisfy those requirements. The Software-Engineering approach is unique in its systematic, quantifiable aspects to developing, operating, and maintaining software.
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Through Coursera, Software Engineering is covered in various courses. These courses focus on Java programming, the software-development lifecycle, IT automation, Python, software design and architecture, AI engineering, and more. Learners gain knowledge in areas such as core programming concepts, designing algorithms, testing and debugging programs, and other foundational skills a Software Engineer needs to know.
An understanding of the traits and uses of high-level programming languages such as Java, Python, C++, and Scala will help you advance through lessons faster. You may even experiment with personal programming projects at home before enrolling in a software engineering course. Experience working with algorithms and visualizing and documenting processes will prepare you for your studies. Any computer-related knowledge or experience can ultimately be beneficial. For example, you may have volunteered to work in a computer lab or simply helped friends and family members troubleshoot tech issues.
The possibilities of using computers in the classroom are widely discussed in the literature, but the idiosyncrasies of educational software development are not addressed to the same extent. Using off-the-shelf products is just one facet of the introduction of technology in the classroom. Implementing such artefacts involves the design of interface and interaction which depend on a series of factors and unfold in a complex set of requirements. The project of such software should ideally be coupled to the instructional design of a discipline and not be limited to the design of a module. Aesthetic and artistic criteria also have a significant impact on the way students perceive the computer and get involved with it. Finally, the trade-off between the development cost and the utility of the product, as part of a set of comprising books, laboratories and other elements, is seldom discussed.
Several domains are interwoven in the design and construction of educational software and multimedia; three tools are considered here in order to structure the requirements and the design of such applications. The area of human-computer interaction and more particularly, the study of ergonomic interfaces helps to shape the overall design of applications and avoid mistakes that could negatively affect most users of a given audience. The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML) of Richard Mayer is a landmark in the field of educational software, providing important heuristics aiming to optimize the effects of multimedia as instructional means. Finally, the Theory of Meaningful Learning (TML) of David Ausubel proposes explanations for the mechanisms behind learning and gives clues about how learning materials should be organized, so that software is integrated into a thorough instructional design. Taken together, this information can feed software engineering processes and provide references for the project and implementation of multimedia instructional programs.
The project and implementation of any computer program is based on software engineering principles, which affect product quality and process efficiency ( Pressman, 2009 ). The field covers a broad range of issues, varying from technical content like algorithmic complexity and hardware performance, to team management and psychological aspects involved in quality control ( Weinberg, 1999 ). The development of educational software can be particularly complicated due to multitude of aspects to be considered, comprising cognitive and psychological effects as well as several technical problems like programming fast graphics or simulating physics to increase the realism.
Despite its relative youth, software engineering can be considered a mature field, being capable of coping with the construction and maintenance of all the complex informational infra-structure that surround us nowadays. To this end it has methodological tools to integrate specific expertises into the development of computer programs. The examples are abundant: medical tools, engineering programs, economics, chemistry and, of course, educational applications. However, working with multi-disciplinary teams may still be a daunting task. For instance, a typical programmer or software analyst is not used to the subtleties involved in the transmission of information during a teaching-learning interaction:
Even if this statement is twenty years old, it remains a fresh truth in software engineering. Teachers are not acquainted with the technical barriers, nor the possibilities, that define the choice of a given set of functions or features that should be implemented in new software. Despite being well-documented in the informatics literature ( Yourdon, 1989 ; Weinberg, 1999 ; Pressman, 2009 ), these issues are recurrent.
The contents were laid in a sequence of units, following the scheme used by the teacher and also adopted in didactic materials as textbooks. The sequence comprised a general overview, followed by roots, stem, leaf, flower, fruit and seed. During their first walk along of the interface, the students would see these themes in this strict sequence. As the sections have been visited, they were allowed to navigate freely. This restriction helped to enforce a match between software and the lessons in class and give a sense of familiarity with the discipline.
In most of the screens, the texts and images were interrelated. Both the temporal and the spatial proximity between texts and images were particularly important because of the new terms that students were supposed to learn. Despite the use of storyboards, we could later spot points where this rule has not been observed. A possible explanation for this kind of mistake was the schedule pressure, since the project was part of a master thesis. Software can be compared with this respect to the preparation of other materials, as a book text. Traditional methods of peer-revision can be used to minimize this type of problem. Larger software projects, subject to financial pressures present particularities for which specific strategies have been devised ( Yourdon, 1989 ).
Once finished, the program was analysed by a group of teachers from the areas of language, biology, arts, informatics and education. The reviews were freely conducted and the reports were positive, with a few suggestions for localised improvement. In further analysis, the relative proximity between the reviewers and the researchers may have disabled negative comments. The format chosen was open-ended questions, with the objective of letting the teachers freely express their views. This decision may also have limited the depth of analysis, because the reviewers did not have any particular background on educational software. This reaffirms the cleavage between the knowledge of computer technicians and of teachers and the need to carefully administer this aspect along of software development.
The project described in this article confirmed the classic predictions of software engineering with regard to planning, schedule and project administration. The strict division of responsibilities had a positive effect on the workflow, another result that is not new but that is never overemphasized among experts of other areas, not acquainted with software production. The departure had moments of hesitation, but in a matter of three weeks the project got a life of its own and the team dynamics was stabilized.
Another important aspect is the complexity of designing the navigation graph of an educational application. Ausubel investigated the mechanisms underlying the storage and retrieval of networks of information, but did not address techniques for designing instructional material. Mayer studied instructional design, but with a focus on communication. Good lectures unfold complex subjects along of a clear path. It is our view that this old proven technique is still the more appropriate to lay the core design of hypermedia, as it seems to match the way we absorb information: piecewise, with clear hooks from one information to the immediately following it and, preferably, with a notion of purpose. In our study, the use of a storyline as a backbone proved to be a good solution to organize the software. According to this view, the free exploration of contents would happen backwards only; during software usage, students should follow a strict sequence. The question of self-guidance is evoked in the literature and needs to be clarified with respect to the approach proposed here.
In a world of e-books, e-readers, and changes in reader behaviors and expectations, Yale University Library is pleased to present two lectures and one workshop that will explore the changing landscape of digital reading and literature. All events are free and open to the public."A Scholar Gets a Kindle and Starts to Read"James J. O'DonnellProvost & Professor of Classics, Georgetown UniversityThursday, April 1, 4:30 p.m. (not 4:15 p.m. as previously advertised)Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall, 128 Wall Street