The interoperability, interactivity and mobility of technology create new opportunities to enhance learning, teaching and assessment (Thompson Long & Hall, 2015; Hall, Ó Grádaigh & Ní Ghuidhir, 2016). Importantly, the emergence of increasingly sophisticated digital devices and applications can potentially enable learning that is more constructionist and interactive, where the predominant focus is on learners' creativity with technology (Resnick, 2016).
But how do we effectively design digital learning, in a conceptually principled yet practically impactful way, informed by the exigencies of our teaching contexts while at the same time inspired by relevant theory? One methodology that can help to enable and support this type of systematic digital learning research 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 research for different educational settings, elective and compulsory. After setting the context and outlining the challenges of contemporary technology-enhanced learning, 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 research in a range of educational contexts, formal and informal. The paper concludes with a framework for digital learning research: DBR3, framed and guided by DBR methods and principles. Based in particular on the educational design research of McKenney & Reeves (2012), the DBR3 Model consists of a ternary of key impact axes for digital learning research: proximal (local implementations); medial (adaptable resources and technologies); and distal (ontological design sensitivities).
Hall, T., Ó Grádaigh, S., & Ní Ghuidhir, S. (2016). (Eds.) 'Special Issue: Mobile Learning in Teacher Education.' International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. 8(2).
McKenney, S. & Reeves, T. (2012). Conducting Educational Design Research. London: Routledge.
Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2005). Design research: A socially responsible approach to instructional technology research in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 16(2), 96–115.
Resnick, M. (2016). Designing for Wide Walls: https://design.blog/2016/08/25/mitchel-resnick-designing-for-wide-walls/
Thompson Long, B., & Hall, T. (2015). 'R-NEST: Design-Based Research for Technology-Enhanced Reflective Practice in Initial Teacher Education'. In Kopcha, TJ., Schmidt, M., & McKenney, S. (Eds.) Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. Special Issue: Educational Design Research for Technology-supported Post-secondary Learning. 31(5), pp. 572-596.