Designed for learning

learning – teaching – research – design – technology

Design Inquiry of Learning

The Design Inquiry model (see Fig. 1) combines the iterative structure of educational design research with the principles of inquiry learning . Educational practitioners follow a cycle of:

  1. Defining their project
  2. Investigating the context in which it is situated and identifying appropriate techno-pedagogical theories
  3. Reviewing relevant cases
  4. Conceptualizing a solution
  5. Implementing a prototype of that solution,
  6. Evaluating it
  7. Reflecting on the process.


Fig. 1. The Design Inquiry model

Although this cycle is presented as a neat linear progression, in reality project work is messy and iterative. Practitioners revisit various points as their understanding evolves.

Diana Laurillard (2013) argues that teaching should be repositioned as a design science, in line with paradigmatic distinction of between natural science which describes how the world is, and design science which is concerned with how it should be. Ideally, we would want teachers to adopt a design science stance towards their practice. However, it would be unrealistic to expect practitioners to allocate the resources required for rigorous and systematic scientific investigation. Instead, we propose a model of design inquiry – a projection of the ideal of design science into realistic settings.

define learning design as “the act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational aims in a given situation”. In that sense, every learning design is a hypothesis about learning: when we design a learning activity, resource or tool we are implicitly claiming that within a given context, learners engaging with the designed artefact will achieve particular educational aims. Such a claim can be the seed hypothesis for a process of inquiry.

Recent studies (e.g. Voogt et al, 2011) demonstrate how training teachers as learning designers enhances not only their practical skills, but also their theoretical understanding . Positioning their design initiatives in an inquiry cycle can further enhance their development, by adding an extra layer of rigor, and connecting educational theory to concrete experiences.

The design inquiry of learning approach is at the core of the Learning Design Studio model , which has been used in several MA courses and in the recently conducted Open Learning Design Studio MOOC (Mor & Mogilevsky, 2013a; 2013b).


Laurillard, D. (2012), Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. , Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group , 7625 Empire Drive, Florence, KY 41042

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013a), Learning design studio: educational practice as design inquiry of learning, in ‘Scaling up Learning for Sustained Impact’ , Springer Berlin Heidelberg, , pp. 233–245

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013b), ‘The Learning Design Studio: Collaborative Design Inquiry as Teachers’ Professional Development‘, Research in Learning Technology 21

Voogt, J.; Westbroek, H.; Handelzalts, A.; Walraven, A.; McKenney, S.; Pieters, J. & de Vries, B. (2011), ‘Teacher learning in collaborative curriculum design’, Teaching and Teacher Education27 (8) , 1235 – 124


October 30, 2013 Posted by | design, learning design | Leave a comment