The interoperability, interactivity and mobility of technology create new opportunities and potential to enhance learning, teaching and assessment (e.g., Hall, 2012; Sharples et al., 2015; Flanagan, 2015; Thompson Long & Hall, 2015; Hall, Ó Grádaigh & Ní Ghuidhir, 2016). Importantly, the emergence of increasingly sophisticated digital devices and applications can potentially enable pupils to engage in learning that is more constructionist and interactive, where the predominant focus is on their being creative with technology (Robinson, 2010; Resnick, 2012).
But how do we effectively design digital learning in schools, taking account of the rapid changes and innovations in educational technology and emerging, best educational practice and research? Moreover, how do we systematise this important activity, in order that it might serve to enhance digital learning in schools, through the alignment and synthesis of academic educational research and teacher professional practice? How do we intentionally effect educational change, informed by the exigencies of our practice contexts yet at the same time inspired by relevant philosophy and theory? One methodology that can help to enable and support this type of educational technology research and development is design-based research (DBR) (Reeves, Herrington & Oliver, 2005).
This paper explores concepts and principles of DBR in education, and how DBR – as a practitioner-oriented, interventionist methodology - can help with the systematisation of the design of digital learning in schools. After setting the context and outlining the contemporary challenges of technology-enhanced learning in educational contexts, the paper discusses key features and principles of design-based research methodology. It outlines the main contributions and limitations of DBR, and how it might be applied – over time - to scale and optimise the impact of design for digital learning in schools.