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ClickIt: A web based application to aid the learning of web development in an educational environment



9 Conclusion

9.1 What has been achieved

Throughout the implementation of the ClickIt application the requirements were the basis of the features being added. The vast majority of the time spent on the application was spent on developing the original requirements, but several additional features were added that were later considered crucial.

Requirement Number Description Core requirement Achieved
FR1 The application should have a graphical interface with tools to aid development Yes Yes
FR2 The application should be user-friendly Yes Yes
FR3 The application should be able to generate valid HTML and CSS code Yes Partially
FR4 The application should be able to display HTML live previews of the current state of the user's work Yes Yes
FR5 The application should support drag and drop No Yes
FR6 The application should allow users to save and reload projects that they are working on either to a database or their local system No Yes
NFR1 The application should run on all major platforms such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Yes Yes
NFR2 The application should produce code generation results efficiently and quickly No Yes
NFR3 The application should be able to store and retrieve from the database in real time No No

While FR3 was a core requirement, it was not fully implemented because of feedback received from some teachers who potentially will use ClickIt with their classes, who stated that developing CSS in ClickIt was not the main focus for younger learners since they do not cover it until they are in their third year of school in Scotland. This feature will be developed later.

Also, after discussions with the same teachers, it was agreed that not using a database for storage was a good decision.

NFR3 was removed for three main reasons:

  • Storing data in a database is more risky than storing the files locally and reloading them. It also requires user accounts which hold personal data. All of this information is therefore online and at risk unless stored in a secure manner. This is especially important with children.
  • Databases need managed. This makes the ClickIt application more expensive and time consuming to maintain.
  • Databases are demanding on web servers if they are used frequently. This is a potential risk for database abuse or even just too much demand on the web server which could lead to a denial of service for users.

In lieu of these potential issues, users can store their ClickIt files on their own local space rather than on the server.

ClickIt largely fulfils the original aim for the project:

To develop an engaging online learning environment that can encourage children to develop websites using HTML and CSS whilst also to make this new method of developing HTML and CSS easier than what already exists for doing the same tasks.

From the feedback received from the participants of the software usability study as well as feedback received from teachers across Scotland, I believe that ClickIt has provided a useful new resource for teachers and pupils that provides an easier method of developing HTML (currently CSS is not implemented) compared with writing code.

9.2 Limitations of ClickIt

The main limitation of ClickIt is that there is only so much it can teach users. HTML is not a broad language to learn. Once a user learns the basics of HTML, the rest almost falls into place. The same can be said with CSS development. This reduces the usefulness of ClickIt with even semi-experienced web developers.

ClickIt is not currently not designed to follow responsive web design rules since the core focus of ClickIt was compatibility with desktop browsers that support drag and drop.

Also, since touch devices do not support drag and drop, ClickIt does not work on these devices. This may be resolved in a future update to ClickIt by offering an alternative for users of touch devices.

ClickIt also requires a browser that supports the HTML5 drag and drop standard - a standard that is yet to be fully implemented in any major browser.

9.3 Future development of ClickIt

It is my intention to maintain ClickIt into the future, however ClickIt currently does not have any direct source of income which may limit development and the ability for it to remain on the web. It currently relies on the funding from my other websites which receive financial support from individuals as well as advertising revenue.

Future developments of ClickIt will focus on making the application compatible with touch devices and making it responsive, improving the reliability of ClickIt and making it more compatible with current devices as well as bringing CSS development to the application. As well as this, ClickIt may be developed for more advanced users. Since ClickIt is not only easy to use but makes web development faster than writing code and far less error prone, more advanced users may benefit from it as well. However, as ClickIt currently stands, it features a very limited feature set, designed specifically to help younger users.

Another possibility for the future of ClickIt was making a community zone for users to share block samples and their own projects. This also would allow users to collaborate on projects.

ClickIt is developed in such a way that it could be easily modified to help develop applications using other programming language such as PHP or Java. This may be a possible new feature for ClickIt in the future.

Another major feature that could be brought to ClickIt in the future is a HTML to block compiler. This compiler would reverse HTML to blocks in ClickIt so users can load their own webpages into ClickIt and work on them from there.

9.4 Final Remarks

The development of ClickIt involved the creation of a whole new system which would be familiar to users of other applications used in a school environment.

ClickIt has been developed with a user centred design in which all of the original requirements have been used as the basis of features that have been included. Features that were included were tested and evaluated by potential end users and modified to suit their needs.

As a result of two usability studies, it was made clear what end users needed in ClickIt. The first study made it possible to refine the user interface before testing the software product whilst the second study allowed existing features to be improved and new features to be added to make it easier to use for future users.

Many features such as the ribbon interface and closing blocks were examples of direct suggestions for improving the user interface for use with children.

I'm very proud of what has been achieved with ClickIt and I feel with more work ClickIt could be one of the most useful web development tools for learners of all ages.

References

  1. Computing Science Project General assessment information, SQA, 2015 . Available from: http://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/GAInfoCompScience.pdf . Accessed 12 Nov 2015
  2. Maiorana, F, 2014. Teaching Web Programming . University of Catania, pp. 49
  3. Jenkins, T, 2001. Teaching Programming - A Journey from Teacher to Motivator. University of Leeds, pp. 1 - 3.
  4. Kahn, K, 1995. ToonTalk - An Animated Programming Environment for Children . Stanford University, pp 198 - 201.
  5. SuperLogo, Axe Valley Community College, Available from: http://folders.axevalley.devon.sch.uk/html/ict/year7/SuperLogo/ . Accessed: 11 Nov 2015
  6. Maloney, J, Resnick, M, Rusk, N, Silverman, B, 2010. The Scratch Programming Language and Environment . Massachusetts Institute of Technology, vol. 10, pp. 2 - 8.
  7. Hourcade, J P, 2001. Interaction Design and Children . University of Iowa, pp. 282 - 283
  8. Hanna, L, Risden, K, Alexander, K, 1997. Guidelines for Usability Testing with Children
  9. Texas Child Care: Back Issues, Lee, T, 2011. Available from: http://www.childcarequarterly.com/spring11_story3.html . Accessed: 17 Nov 2015
  10. Kolb’s Learning Styles, Business Balls, 2015. Available from: http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm . Accessed: 17 Nov 2015

Bibliography

  1. W3C HTML5 and CSS2 and CSS3 specifications
  2. PHP Reference library
  3. SQA Curriculum for Excellence
  4. SQA Higher and Advanced Higher Computing course notes and past examination papers
  5. ToonTalk website (http://www.toontalk.com)
  6. Logo versions website (https://logo.codeplex.com)
  7. Scratch website (https://scratch.mit.edu)
  8. Zurb Joyride website (http://zurb.com/playground/jquery-joyride-feature-tour-plugin)