Design-based research was initially coined by Anne Brown and Allan Collins in 1992 . The concept is still evolving and Barab & Squaire (2004) has described it as “a series of approaches, with the intent of producing new theories, artifacts, and practices that account for and potentially impact learning and teaching in naturalistic setting.”
Some of the characteristics of design-based research (DBR) identified by Wang & Hannafin (2005), Herrington & Oliver (2010) and McKenney & Reeves (2012), as summarised by Dorothy (2015) are the following:
- DBR has a theoretical orientation with theory informing practice.
- It has an interventionist in the sense that the design aims at an intervention in a real-world context.
- DBR involves practitioners and is collaborative and iterative.
- It uses mixed methods to ensure a richer understanding.
- And it is situated in a real education context.
Application to my context
At present I have identified my problem as a field test of the present courseware in order to make adjustments necessitated by unforeseen contextual, pedagogical or technical issues.
A design-based approach could be implemented with great success to ensure courseware that is highly practical and professionally enriching.
However, the constraints set by a corporate environment within a transforming industry have to be considered. At present the publishing industry as a whole is in a state of extreme uncertainty as a result of the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) “one textbook” approach, which can be summarised as follows:
- In the past all publishers could submit any number of titles and the best would be accepted and placed on a national catalogue from which schools could then make their choices.
- In 2012 publishers could still submit unlimited numbers of titles, but now only the best eight titles per subject per grade were chosen for the national catalogue.
- In 2015 the decision was made that (a) publishers could only submit one title per subject per grade and no longer different series; and (b) that of all the titles submitted only one textbook per subject per grade would be accepted. In other words – schools will no longer have a choice. The DBE will choose for them.
This policy change, combined with the seemingly potential gradual nationalisation of school textbook printing (the DBE are writing and releasing their own workbooks and extending this to interactive content), has placed the publishing industry into a state of survival of the fittest. Small publishers have already had to close down, or completely change their business models to include other publishing fields.
In this state of uncertainty, the unproven assumption could be made that much time wouldn’t be allocated to a single product or service. In other words, although DBR would be a good fit for the development of a product or service such as our courseware, at present we have neither the resources nor the available project timelines to invest into a structured series of iterations.
All this is my own assumptions and can only be tested by the creation of a proposal for such a research project.
- Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The journal of the learning sciences, 13(1), 1-14.
- Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of The Learning Sciences, 2 (2), 141–178
- Collins, A. (1992). Toward a design science of education. In E. Scanlon & T. O’Shea (Eds.), New directions in educational technology (pp. 15–22). New York: Springer-Verlag.
- Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A practical guide to authentic e-learning. Routledge.
- McKenney, S., & Reeves, T. C. (2013). Systematic review of design-based research progress is a little knowledge a dangerous thing?. Educational Researcher, 42(2), 97-100.
- Reeves, T. C. (2006). Design research from a technology perspective. Educational design research, 1(3), 52-66
- Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational technology research and development, 53(4), 5-23.