Design is much more than merely understanding the affordances and capabilities of new media. In order to understand technological innovation (be it the design of a mousetrap or a piece of educational computer software), it is crucial to understand the process of design.
Design is not simply a one-to-one mapping of scientific knowledge or theoretical frameworks onto a problem. Design is a complex, non-linear, ill-structured, and yet generative, creative process requiring the understanding and implementation of a range of skills and knowledge domains to construct artifacts for human purposes.
Design as Pedagogy
An important site for my research on understanding the process of design has been in my work with teachers and university faculty as they engage in designing technological solutions to problems of pedagogical practice.
Teachers learning to use technology for pedagogy is best achieved by situating them in contexts that honor the rich connections between technology, the subject matter (content) and the means of teaching it (the pedagogy). This led to a pedagogical approach we have called Learning Technology by Design.
In these seminars, teachers learn technology not by learning specific computer programs, but rather by designing technological solutions to pedagogical problems. There is little direct instruction about technology and students spend most of the class time working in small groups engaged in design-based activity. We argue that by participating in these design activities, teachers develop knowledge of technology that is sensitive to the subject matter to be taught and the specific instructional goals. This work led to the development of the TPACK framework.
Pedagogy of Design
I have been involved in better understanding how to teach people how to design. This is related to my interest in creativity and design process. In the spring of 2002 I worked with Dr. Anagnostopoulos to develop a ten-week, after-school workshop in which we worked with high-school students as they constructed digital videos. I was also part of a research team investigating the process by which children design educational computer games. As part of an NSF grant, we conducted a two-week summer camp in which fifth and eighth grade students worked in small same-gender groups to design learning games. This research provides us basic knowledge to design the next generation of learning games, as well as improving our understanding of constructivist learning environments.