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A Design Research Methodology for Online Learning Course Design by Rebecca

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A Design Research Methodology for Online Learning Course Design (#edumooc) Posted on July 5, 2011 by Rebecca For all the #edumooc'ers out there, I apologize that most of the references in this piece are of academic nature, and therefore are not in the public domain. Below are key excerpts from a synthesis paper I wrote about design research. I see now that the methodology that I propose would also easily apply to the development of online learning – in fact, I actually use this methodology somew
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  A Design Research Methodology for Online Learning CourseDesign (#edumooc) Posted on   July 5, 2011   by   Rebecca   For all the #edumooc'ers out there, I apologize that most of the references in this piece are of academic nature, and therefore are not in the public domain. Below are key excerpts from asynthesis paper I wrote about design research. I see now that the methodology that I proposewould also easily apply to the development of online learning – in fact, I actually use thismethodology somewhat informally as I design and re-design various iterations of one of theonline courses that I teach.If you find this useful, or plan to use this methodology, please leave me a comment. Thanks.A Design Research Methodology for Online Learning Course DesignWang and Hannafin define design-base research as “a systematic but flexible methodologyaimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, andimplementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-worldsettings, and leading to contextually-sensitive design principles and theories [underline added]”(2005, p. 6).Design principles are aims and goals guiding design decisions that occur during thedevelopment life cycle (Mariage, Vamderdonckt, & Pribeau, 2005, p.689). Design principles aregeneric and are not generally places in context. When context is added to a design principle, itbecomes a design guideline.Design research is pragmatic: it provides a solution to a real-world educational problem (suchas teaching terminology) and adds to educational theory in the form of design principles that canbe used by educational practitioners (Brown, 1992, p. 143; Collins, 1992, p. 15). Depending onthe context in which it is being used, design research may also be known as design studies,design experiments, development/developmental research, formative research, formativeevaluation, or engineering research (van den Akker, Gravemeijer, McKenney, & Nieveen, 2006,p. 4). Since design research is intended to both solve a real world problem and to develop re-usable design principles, it is well suited to help develop design theories for mobile learning.There are many approaches to design research – all of which begin with a theory gathering or literature review phase and end with a reflection on both the design solution and the designresearch process. The middle part of the process – the iterative cycles of analysis, design,development, and implementation – very among the different approaches.Most online learning projects involve both instructional designers and software developers;therefore, a design research approach to online learning should take into account the processused by these practitioners. Specifically, an ADDIE-based instructional design approach and anAgile-based software development approach.For online learning (and mobile learning), I recommend a simplified four-phased designresearch approach that draws on the characteristics of the design research approachespresented in research (Ma and Harmon, 2009;Middleton, Gorard, Taylor, and Bannan-Ritland,2008; Gravemeijer and Cobb, 2006) with instructional design methodologies and the agilesoftware development method. I call this approach ASER (analyze, strategize, experiment,reflect). As illustrated below, the ASER process has four phases: 1) analyze real-world problem,2) strategize design experiment, 3) conduct context specific design experiment, and 4) reflect onentire project.  In the analyze phase the researcher performs a detailed analysis of a real-world problem. Whenanalyzing the problem, the researcher ensures that scope of the problem is general enough towarrant design research, and that the problem is indeed a design problem. This phase requirescrafting a research question.The strategize phase requires the development of strategies to support the design researchproject. The researcher performs detailed literature reviews and chooses or developsframeworks based upon current theories. The researcher defines the strategies for theexperiment phase, including identifying research methods and data collection methods, andidentifying specific goals for each experiment cycle. In the strategy, the researcher defines thespecific boundaries for the beginning and ending of cycles and the project as a whole. Theseboundaries provide the necessary scope for the additional team members (instructionaldesigners and software developers). For example, the researcher may define the means of delivering the content to the devices not within the scope of the project, but the coding of thecontent itself within scope. In addition, the researcher defines the scope of each iteration smallenough to permit multiple iterations of the experiment phase.During the strategize phase, additional team members perform their analysis. Instructionaldesigners perform the analysis phase of ADDIE. Software developers perform the initialplanning and architecture design portion of their process. The frameworks defined by theresearcher are used as input to the instructional designers and the software developers and for their analysis.The experiment phase is the iterative phase in the ASER approach, clearly illustrated by thecircular arrows in the diagram. The research team uses iterative cycles of design, develop,instructional experiment, and evaluate, with the evaluate step providing input to the next designstage and the first iteration acting as the feasibility test for the project. The four cycles aligndirectly with the design, develop, implement, and evaluate phases in ADDIE. The iterativedevelopment and testing phases of the agile software development method also align. Eachiteration has a specific goal, defined in the research design strategy, and there is specificsoftware and instructional material developed to support that goal.Reflect is the final phase of the project. In this phase, all data collected throughout the iterativecycles is analyzed as a whole. The researcher seeks to extract design principles based uponthe results of the design experiments. The software development team completes the finalphases of their process, seeking to commercialize the results of their development. In additionto the analysis of the research results, an evaluation of the overall research process isperformed and learnings are shared.ReferencesBrown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creatingcomplex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences , 2  (2), 141-178. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0202_2Collins, A. (1992). Towards a design science of education. In E. Scalon & T. O'Shea (Eds.), New Directions in Educational Technology  (pp. 15-22). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.  Gravemeijer, K., & Cobb, P. (2006). Design research from a learning design perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. gravemeijer, S. McKenney, & N. Nieveen (Eds.),  Educational Design Research (pp. 17-51). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. doi:http://www.routledge.com/Ma, Y., & Harmon, S. W. (2009). A case study of design-based research for creating a visionprototype of a technology-based innovative learning environment.  Journal of Interactive Learning Research ,  20 (1), 75-93. doi:http://www.aace.org/Middleton, J., Gorard, S., Taylor, C., & Bannan-Ritland, B. (2008). The Compleat DesignExperiment. In A. E. Kelly, R. A. Lesh, & J. Y. Baek (Eds.),  Handbook of design researchmethods in education (pp. 21 – 46). New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.Mariage, C., Vamderdonckt, J., & Pribeanu, C. (2005). State of the art of web usability guidelines. In R. W. Proctor & K.-P. L. Vu (Eds.), Handbook of human factors in web design (pp.688 – 700). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. van den Akker, J., Gravemeijer, K., McKenney, S., & Nieveen, N. (2006). Introducingeducational design research. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney, & N. Nieveen(Eds.),  Educational Design Research (pp. 3-13). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.doi:http://www.routledge.com/ Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learningenvironments.  Educational Technology Research and Development  ,  53 (4), 5-23.doi:10.1007/BF02504682
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