I am a educational design researcher ... (2011)


I am a 'design researcher' - why do I focus my research studies on sociotechnical-learning design?

Last week, a person asked: You are actually a sociologist? Why do you focus on 'design'? A good question!

Well, I am not really a sociologist. New technologies, for example mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet PC's, but also Web 2.0 applications like Facebook, or mobile devices (e.g. iPads) give teachers, instructors etc. two options. They can either choose to reject these new tools ("It is not allowed in my classroom!") or to implement them in their learning environment.

If teachers choose to use new technologies, then, new questions come up:

  • How can I (as a teacher) use these new technologies in my learning settings? Is there a benefit when I construct a collaborative learning scenario using new technology?
  • Do we need new didactical methods, or do we have to develop new technical applications, or both?
  • Certainly, there are also questions like "what problems will occur when I use new technology"?
  • What is an useful design to support interactions among learners (in collocated or distance learning) when using new technologies? To what extent, for what learning scenario are what kind of new technologies helpful or not?

I want to be one of those persons who give answers to these questions with my sociotechnical-didactical research connected with teaching practice. In order to give answers, a design-based research is needed where different learning scenarios (with different learning objectives and outcomes) will be designed - developing of technological applications and learning spaces. The idea is simple: enable different opportunities for learning.

To make to more clear for the reader, I love this answer adapted by Ken Masters (Oct/02, 2011, POD):

It is not one or the other - it is not technology or didactical approaches. To develop and to improve teaching practices, teachers look for tools but sometimes those tools don't exist yet, are too expensive, or beyond the skillset and so forth. At the same time, we have all (I hope) been in a situation where we have seen a new tool (...) , and it has sparked an idea that we would not otherwise have thought of. It is circular, and I believe that dismissing either route will make one a poorer teacher. I think also calling it a toy, inadvertently belittles a large amount of innovative thinking and teaching.