Knowledge Representation Essay

          Research on improving educational practices and learning outcomes through the use of learning technologies has been criticized as insignificant (Amiel & Reeves, 2008; Wang, & Hannafin, 2005). Many researchers believe that traditional research in learning technologies did not portray the entire picture of educational contexts and has offered little advice to practitioners (Amiel & Reeves, 2008; Lim et al., 2013). According to Plomp (2013), there is a lack of relevance in educational research for educational practice, and more educational research is needed to addresses practical problems. In addition, the Design-Based Research Collective states that “educational research is often divorced from the problems and issues of everyday practice – a split that resulted in a credibility gap and creates a need for new research approaches that speak directly to problems of practice and that lead to the development of usable knowledge” (2003, p.5). Thus, researchers of all areas of education are encouraged to investigate educational and learning contexts using collaborative and reflective methods of investigation to produce research results that make a difference. Design-based research (DBR) provides systematic and collaborative guidelines to base valuable research on. According to Plomp (2013), design-based research is “to design and develop an intervention (such as programs, teaching-learning strategies and materials, products and systems) as a solution to a complex educational problem as well as to advance our knowledge about the characteristics of these interventions and the processes to design and develop them, or alternatively to design and develop educational interventions (about for example, learning processes, learning environments and the like) with the purpose to develop or validate theories” (p.15).

          The definition of DBR shows two main purposes: developing research-based solutions for complex problems, which lead to increases in relevant research for educational practice (Reeves, 2005), and validating the existing theories or generating new ones (diSessa & Cobb, 2004). Regardless of the purposes of conducting research, the process of DBR includes systematic design processes that help researchers to investigate ill-defined and open problems that involve complex interactions with participants and practitioners (Plomp, 2013). However, this rigorous and open nature of DBR poses some challenges and could blur the roles of researchers, teachers, instructional designers and assessment experts. According to Bannan (2013), educational research is extremely complex and a comprehensive framework is needed to “guide design research addressing the process of designing, developing and assessing the impact of an educational intervention” (p.15). In addition, the Design-Based Research Collective (2003) illustrated that “ongoing methodological development is needed to enhance rigor while respecting the importance of local context” (p.7). Therefore, researchers proposed various frameworks of DBR processes, which generally include iterative phases of analysis, design, evaluation, and revision.

          The Integrative Learning Design Framework (ILDF) proposed by Bannan (2003) provides the best guidance for research designs to researchers within various disciplines. This is because ILDF was built from multiple fields including social science, behavioral science, instructional design, software engineering, product development, educational research, and the diffusion of innovation. According to Bannan (2013), the ILDF consists of four phases of Informed Exploration, Enactment, Local Evaluation, and Broad Evaluation, as presented in Figure 1.

ILDF framework

Figure 1. The Integrative Learning Design Framework (ILDF) (Bannan-Ritland, 2013)

          Therefore, the ILDF model provides comprehensive and systematic processes that include micro and macro cycles of design research. These processes have the best chance to bridge theoretical research and educational practices while also generating knowledge about teaching and learning (Bannan, 2013). In addition, the DBR approach is depicted by Reeves (2006) as follows:


Figure 2. Design Based Research (Reeves, 2006)

           Reeves’s model of DBR placed an emphasis on iterative processes that evaluate and refine an intervention to produce principles of design that guide future research. In addition, the model highlighted the importance of engaging practitioners in the design processes to obtain the maximum benefits from the research when it is completed. Thus, the ultimate goals of Reeves’s model of DBR are to guide researchers to conduct educational research that is strongly connected to real-world problems and to develop theories, which can occur after long-term engagements and investigations.

          According to Brown (2009), DBR enriches researchers’ understanding of classroom complexities, where other research approaches with strict control of experiments and isolated variables are limited in understanding different scenarios of learning environments. In addition, Seeto and Herrington (2006) claim that DBR is “particularly suited to the exploration of significant education problems and technology-based solutions” (p.724). These technological solutions include mobile learning, open educational resources, massive online open courses, and many other technology-based solutions. According to O’Malley et al. (2003), mobile learning is any sort of learning that happens when learners are not at a fixed, predetermined location, or when learners takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies. Kukulska-Hulme (2008) claims that mobile learning research is unpredictable as it requires an openness of participants to “capture aspects of the world around them” (p.8) and to provide opportunities for them to reflect on what they are learning. Thus, the unpredictable and ubiquitous nature of mobile learning makes DBR a suitable methodology for researchers and practitioners. It will allow them to make meaningful changes in contexts of mobile learning design and research.

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Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational technology research and development, 53(4), 5-23