DBR Weekly Readings Part 6

Summary of Class Article.

DiSessa, A. A., & Cobb, P. (2004). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 77–103.

DiSessa and Cobb argue for design research grounded in theory in this article. Using specific case studies as illustration, the authors describe ontological innovation, thus building a new class of theories within design research. I particularly appreciated the description of grand theories vs. orienting frameworks vs. frameworks for action vs. domain specific instructional theories at the beginning of this article, as this description clarified a great deal that has remained muddy in my mind since I started my studies in OILS. I also enjoyed the idea of “managing the gap” (pg. 82) between theory, design, and action within the context of research.


I continue to be fascinated by the tension of theory evolution in education vs. science. I had assumed that a workable theory in any field would always build and enfold its predecessors. To learn that in education, the old is often discarded in favor of the new was both revealing and enlightening. I appreciated the authors’ (DiSessa and Cobb) integration of scientific principles and examples, as they both grounded and illustrated the dichotomy and the authors’ aim effectively.

Discussion foci.

  1. While DiSessa and Cobb show there are several different kinds of theories and frameworks, are there guiding principles to developing theories for design research?
  2. How does meta-representational competence intersect with research on misconceptions?


Humble Theory Summaries.

Bennett, S., Bishop, A., Dalgarno, B., Waycott, J., & Kennedy, G. (2012). Implementing Web 2.0 technologies in higher education: A collective case study. Computers & Education, 59(2), 524–534. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.022

This article describes six case studies of Web 2.0 implementations as part of a large-scale research study by the Australian government. While potential learning benefits stemmed from authentic student content creation and sharing, potential pitfalls included students’ knowledge of and patience with the tools as well as instructor and institutional support. Constant tension remains between the tools and their benefits in terms of learning and in terms of effective pedagogy.


Clegg, T., Yip, J. C., Ahn, J., Bonsignore, E., Gubbels, M., Lewittes, B., & Rhodes, E. (2013). When face-to-face fails: Opportunities for social media to foster collaborative learning. In Tenth international conference on computer supported collaborative learning. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason_Yip4/publication/265209013_When_Face-to-Face_Fails_Opportunities_for_Social_Media_to_Foster_Collaborative_Learning/links/540543e50cf2bba34c1d2e5f.pdf

This article delineates F2F vs. social media interactions that support science learning in informal environments. It asks “(1) How can computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) technology augment face-to-face environments to promote the productive social interactions necessary for collaborative learning?  and (2) How do design features in CSCL technology facilitate productive social shifts?” (pg. 1). Specifically, three case analyses detailing student use of SINQ (Scientific INQuiry) are elucidated within the article, thus providing a rare and interesting student perspective. Focus is on the design of the research, with secondary themes of F2F vs. digital student interactions.

Great Quote:  “…CSCL tools sometimes need to provide separation to help learners begin to internalize the social skills needed for effective group work.” (pg. 8)


Conole, G., & Alevizou, P. (2010). A literature review of the use of Web 2.0 tools in Higher Education. The Open University, UK: Higher Education Academy.

This is a comprehensive literature review of Web 2.0 articles completed for the UK Higher Education Academy. Published in 2010, the exhaustive nature of this review, which describes learning theories, specific tools, concrete examples, and current themes (of which most still fit), reveals it to be the article to go to if a quick summary is needed on any particular Web 2.0 tool or its impact on higher education. What lacks here is the most recent research (2010-2017) as well as a classroom focus, which Tess (2013) provides.

Great Quotes:

1. “Siemens suggests the follow as a list of the new roles that teachers need to adopt in networked learning environments: Amplifying, Curating, Way‐finding and socially‐driven sensemaking, Aggregating, Filtering, Modelling, Persistent presence (Siemens, 2009: np)” (pg. 21)

2. “Parry describes the use of Twitter in his class and identifies the following as key factors to consider at the learning design stage (see Briggs, 2008):

  • Create a sense of classroom community.
  • Familiarise students with both disciplinary and professional discourses.
  • Conduct just‐in‐time case studies and encourage them to be reflexive about their own communicative practices, through the sharing of ideas and negotiation.
  • Develop a social and ubiquitous presence: As Parry notes, ‘I think people end up being a lot more comfortable with classroom discourse and get a sense that [the instructor] isn’t just someone who comes in and talks for an hour and 30 minutes twice a week. It has the very positive effect of altering the classroom state to not just be contained by the four walls, and by meeting twice a week.’ (cited in Briggs, 2008: n.p.).
  • Using backchannels to generate instant feedback within lectures is another factor for potential success. This is consistent with Yardi (2008: 145).
  • In both classroom situations and research‐led teaching, using social networking and microblogging to connect to the epistemology of disciplines such as new media with writing or critical literacy skills can be fruitful..” (pgs. 34-35)


Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), A60–A68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.032

This meta analysis looks at research that describes the social media usage within the higher education classroom. Most articles Tess reviewed were content analyses or research involving surveys or questionnaires. Articles with extensive empirical evidence seemed lacking in his purview. The article concludes with a discussion of whether the use of social media actually results in student learning or is just another educational technology to use in the classroom.

Great Quote: Two overarching themes for future directions in Web 2.0 research scholarship include: 1.“the notion of the learner’s participation as evidenced by interconnections, content creation and remixing, and interconnections” (pg. A66) and 2. “learner’s identity formation” (pg. A66)


Yan, J. (2008). Social technology as a new medium in the classroom. New England Journal of Higher Education, 22(4). Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ794242

This article details the use of e-Portfolios, Wikis, Blogs, and social media within the curriculum at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The author details the benefits and gives quick examples of each medium’s use. The author’s overarching theme within the article is that online tools provide individual and collaboration opportunities, which then foster greater student motivation.

Great Quote: “Technologies adopted in schools today, including blogs, wikis, social networking and online learning communities, are keeping teachers and students connected in and out of class. They are creating opportunities for groups to share, collaborate, showcase and grow together. In addition, they allow exchange of information and ideas not only within the confines of a classroom, but across schools, districts, states and the world.” (pg. 30)


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