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Kieran Mulchrone's Review of 4T's and DPD (2015)

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Kieran Mulchrone
14 April 2015


This is a very readable, concise and informative description of the 4T representation. The associated swim lane diagram clearly demonstrates the outcome and is a excellent tool for rapid dissemination of ideas and approaches. An iterative approach is recommended whereby changes to one T (task, teams, technology and time) may prompt a review/change  of other T’s. This sits well with my experience of development in many spheres (software, scientific research, teaching). Rarely (never?) is one able to simply write out a perfect design, product, or lesson in a single sitting. Review, change, testing, further review are the hallmarks of design processes. Although the authors describe the process as messy, it reflects the true nature of the design process. The outcome is clear, graphical and relatively succinct. I can see how it could be applied in different learning activities.

Design Principle Database

I was impressed at first glance by this representation and also saw in the discussion cloud that it related to science well. However, on further examination, I was disappointed. First, I went to the originating website (, which I found rather baffling. It is probably a very rich website but needs a guidebook which I couldn’t find. I looked at some examples. Many of the graphics were of complex-looking networks that were richly interconnected but not very informative.

The authors gave a reasonable account of the representation, however I found it a little nebulous. Each feature is connected with a principle which may reside at three hierarchicla levels (meta-, pragmatic and specific). All principles are interlinked in a manner which may be confusing.

The final output was a simple table with a feature on the left-hand side and a principle on the right-hand side. I didn’t find this inpsiring or that it communicated the underlying learning activity well.

I also don’t get the connection with science mentioned in the discussion cloud, other than there are scientific principles but then again, whether explicit or implicit, there are principles associated with all representations.

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