Theme 6: Educational design and curriculum development

In the previous ICO periods, this thematic group has made substantial progress with respect to educational design and curriculum development. Research in this thematic group has been centred on the design and development of learning situations and environments by professional designers aimed at the achievement of particular higher order thinking skills and competencies in specific educational domains based upon strong empirical research. It has given the field tools, techniques, and procedures for designing more effective, efficient, and enjoyable learning situations primarily at the lesson level. This thematic group has broadened its scope in the coming period to include 1) other types of design (How does one design and develop?), 2) other types of designers (Who designs and develops?), and 3) a broader spectrum of lesson design (What is designed and developed?).

Research concerning design has centred on what can be categorised as conventional, theory-driven, often cognitive-based approach. This has spawned design models based upon theories such as component display theory, elaboration theory, and 4-component instructional design. The theme has been broadened its scope to also encompass a more interactive approach in which design and/or developmental research has strongly emerged. This approach is often intertwined with innovative development efforts to educational improvement. Design research aims at supporting and optimizing design and development decisions along with the empirical testing of design theories. It can be seen as a type of interactive design which pays especially close attention to the needs, abilities and user contexts of those who will actually be involved in the learning, teaching or professional facilitating.

The second broadening of scope relates to who is doing the designing. Educational design development is no longer the exclusive domain of the professional designer. The instructor and the learner her/himself are also seen as designers and developers of the learning situation. Teachers and learners are no longer simply users, but are becoming increasingly involved in the process. Along various contexts, research on design and design tools has mostly applied to professional design and development of instruction, curricula, educational media and assessment, both in education and professional training. This broadening of scope will allow for research on approaches that support teachers who design their own instruction and who are involved in professional development, and students who are, from a constructivist perspective, also designing their own learning environment by engaging in the formulation of learning objectives and selecting appropriate means for reaching these objectives.

Finally, the scope has been broadened to include the design and development of full-fledged curricula based upon an integrative approach to teaching and learning. This approach encompasses the blending of individual, collaborative (i.e., peer and team), and collective (i.e., whole class) learning which integrates different pedagogies (i.e., instruction, acquisition, construction) across multiple spaces (i.e., classroom, team room, distributed, and mobile) making use computationally integrated and even ubiquitous technologies.