Many business schools around the world offer courses to train their students in acquiring so called “soft skills”, such as working in teams for decision making or sharing information to collaboratively solve complex problems. These courses often include learning activities where students are asked to generate ideas, discuss them, rank them and select the best ones. In order to develop their IT skills, students are often asked to take advantage of available IT technologies for supporting this task. If geographical location information is prominently used to provide context information about the ideas students propose and discuss, this activity can be classified as geo-collaborative. Free software available from the web has often been used to support this kind of work, like Google Maps, for geo-referencing the ideas, the text editor of Google Drive for describing them and Twitter or Facebook to exchange messages and comments. These applications are robust and suitable for use by large groups of students engaged in a situated learning activity. In the context of a learning activity taking place in a business school in Chile, the authors observed students for four semesters collaboratively using these tools to identify ways of improving life or solving problems in certain areas of the city which have to be georeferenced on a map. They had to generate proposals, discuss them and select the ten best. Through feedback provided by students, we identified problems regaring information overload, the lack of support for collaboration and unsatisfactory usability. From these findings we derived requirements for software especially designed to support this learning activity and have a tool that offers better usability. A prototype was developed to cope with these requirements. It was used for two semesters and evaluated under the same conditions when students used free and/or standard software. The experiment yielded positive results and gave us valuable insight on how to implement main features of a system supporting learning activities for large groups that includes decision making, blogging and geo-collaboration.
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Baloian, N., Zurita, G. Achieving better usability of software supporting learning activities of large groups. Inf Syst Front 18, 125–144 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-015-9580-3