From Virtual Frog to Frog Island: design studies in a development project
We describe the efforts of a curriculum development team to create computerized virtual creatures for biology education. The original purpose was to create a virtual frog that biology students could dissect on computer. As the project developed, the vision changed radically. Instead of a virtual creature, the team created a virtual world, Frog Island, that contained a wealth of resources in various media for learning about the biology of frogs. The impetus for the shift from Virtual Frog to Frog Island came from a series of design studies in which the team discovered that the original vision did not match the needs of students and teachers. On the basis of this experience, we make a case for the value of early design studies in the development of educational innovations.