Values play a role in any design. Ease of use and (cost) efficiency are often obvious: companies want to sell as many products as possible at a profit. Sometimes there is a trade-off between certain values: for security with a strong password, something must be sacrificed in terms of ease of use. Design choices can also lead to values being squeezed. That infinite scroll wFor example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok encourage addiction. It is even claimed that this was deliberately modeled after the example of the slot machine. This does not benefit the well-being of some users in the long run.
Design is not neutral
Values also underlie the design of educational technology, consciously or unconsciously intended. Gamification elements in programs such as Maths Garden or Squla make educational apps attractive to students, including working with at home, but increase screen time. Adaptive learning materials such as Gynzy, Maths Garden or Snappet provide students with immediate feedback that strengthens the learning process. On the other hand, this direct feedback seems intense for some students.
Students were sleeping badly because of announcements about marks for exams coming in at night
But promoting one need not necessarily come at the expense of another. With ‘dark mode’, for example, a screen or program is still clearly legible, but uses less energy and thus contributes slightly to more sustainability. Another example: when in an electronic learning environment it became possible to send messages when grades were entered for tests, the majority of users responded enthusiastically. Students preferred to be notified immediately. Until it became clear that some students were sleeping badly when they saw that they had an unsatisfactory grade when the teacher entered grades at 1:30 in the evening. The vendor then added a setting that allowed schools to stop the notifications after a certain amount of time. For example, he took into account both ease of use and the students’ well-being.
Converting values into standards and design principles
By making explicit important values when designing technology, you can come up with solutions that serve or promote more values. This is also called value-sensitive design or ethics of design named. One way to do this is by converting values into standards and design principles. A school can share its core values or common educational values translate them into standards that show as a kind of regulations how they want to translate value into action. These standards can then be translated into design principles that describe what functionality is required in an ICT application or product. We provide three examples below.
Example 1: adaptive learning material
As a first exercise with value-sensitive design in the education and ICT domain, together with researcher and expert in adaptive learning material Inge Molenaar from Radboud University and Bart Tuerlings, teacher and Snappet coach at Stichting Klasse, we have prepared a value hierarchy for adaptive learning material from Kennisnet.
By using values from WaardenWijzer as a starting point, we came up with new design principles. From the value of humanity and the partial value of social cohesion, we have e.g. the norm ‘adapted learning material facilitates learning from and to each other.‘ drawn up. This in turn led to a design principle ‘adaptive learning material provides opportunities for peer learning’.
This would be an interesting addition to adaptive learning materials. Because adaptive learning materials make personalized learning possible by challenging each student exactly at his or her level, but this can also lead to learning becoming very individualistic and at the expense of the socialization task of the education. By taking into account a value such as social cohesion, adaptive learning material can also be designed in such a way that learning has a social component. For example, if a student has made a mistake on a topic, you can refer them to fellow students who already understand it: ‘perhaps one of your fellow students can help you further’. Furthermore, research shows that letting students learn from each other is a very effective learning strategy.
Example 2: VLE MBO
The members of the data-supported education team on the MBO education ‘Continue digitalisation’ have established a hierarchy of values for an ELO. They have translated a value like ‘autonomy’ with sub-values ’independence of education’ and ‘independence of educational institutions’ into the standard ‘data generated using VLE is always available to the institution’ and designed principle “the institution can about all data generated by VLE” . In the case of the self-development value, for example, the norm also arose that the VLE should be accessible to people both inside and outside the institution from the point of view of ‘lifelong development’.
Example 3: own file
Finally, the ‘own file’ team (now part of the flexibilization and modularization team) in the MBO program Doorpak op digitalisation has developed a value hierarchy for its own file. where a student can save all his learning data. An example of a design principle is that ‘of one’s own file open source code-basic version (for client and host) is available for everyone‘. This design principle derives from the standard ‘the (base version) of one’s own file should be affordable or free for all’‘, which in turn is derived from the values of justice and sub-values of spaciousness and accessibility.
Formulation of requirements and wishes for tenders
These three examples show how the development of ICT value-sensitive design can be controlled based on values. Schools can, for example, use this method when formulating requirements and wishes for a tender. But also as an innovation methodology, value-sensitive design is useful for both established companies and start-ups, to collaborate with schools on digitization that promotes educational values. The methodology is a good supplement to the more user-oriented approaches such as sketching customer journeys and user stories.
Read more about value-sensitive design