Oct 252010

Publications iconDesigning Social Infrastructure: Critical Issues in Creating Learning
Environments With Technology

Katerine Bielaczyc, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological Univesity, Singapore

Abstract: If design research involving technology-based tools is going to impact educational settings, the design process must be extended beyond the tool itself to encompass a broader range of factors such as the classroom social structures (e.g., beliefs about learning and knowledge, learning activities and participant structures, configurations of both physical space and cyberspace). Although prior research has underscored the importance of classroom social structures in technology integration, it has failed to specify the critical design variables that must be taken into account. Only by understanding the critical variables involved is it possible to develop a deep understanding of how and why things work. The Social Infrastructure Framework systematically frames the critical design elements in terms of 4 dimensions: (a) cultural beliefs, (b) practices, (c) socio-techno-spatial relations, and (d) interaction with the “outside world.” This article details the design issues associated with each dimension based on examples drawn from a range of educational technologies. This article also describes how the framework can serve to advance the methodology of design research by serving as a tool for both design and analysis.
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