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Inquiry of Design for Learning

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Robert Farrow
10 September 2012

The overarching aim of the proposed research is to solidify the theoretical foundations of the field of Learning Design, construct a comprehensive methodological framework on these foundations, and develop a set of tools to support this framework.

Learning Design is the act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving educational aims. Concepts central to the discussion are context, practice, and change. The context of learning design encompasses the material, social and intentional factors which define the space in which learners and educators operate. Practice includes both epistemic practice (“How we learn”) and pedagogical practice (“how we teach”). Finally, design always aims to change existing situations into desired ones. There is a need for formalisms and methodologies that allow a scientific and operational articulation of these elements.

The proposed research will integrate three existing constructs - design narratives, design principles and design patterns, and propose a fourth form – design scenarios. Design narratives describe a concrete practical challenge in a defined domain, the actions taken to resolve it and their unfolding effects. Design principles are imperative statements which synthesize the findings of scientific research in a manner accessible for practitioners and summarise insights from practical experience to inform scientific discourse. Patterns are generalised narratives, offering a canonical description of a common challenge, the characteristics of the context in which it occurs, and a possible method of solution. Scenarios complete the picture by projecting design claims into the future as hypothesized narratives.

The objectives of this research will include:

●        Articulating conceptual and operational formalisms for capturing context, epistemic and pedagogical practice, and models of change.

●        Exploring methodologies, situated in defined domains of practice, for eliciting such representations and utilising them effectively in supporting educational innovation.

●        Enhancing existing software tools to support these methodologies and facilitate the activity of a vibrant researcher and practitioner community committed to them.

●        Establishing a culture of practitioner design inquiry in TEL, in which educators use the representations, methodologies and tools above to sustain scientifically informed creative practices in their professional context.

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Overview of Inquiry Learning Design

Overview of Inquiry Learning Design

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