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Comunicar Journal 42: Revolution in Education? (Vol. 21 - 2014)

Design thinking and collaborative learning


This paper presents design thinking as an alternative approach to conduct research on collaborative learning with technology. The underlying premise of the paper is the need to adopt human-centered design principles in research and design of computer-supported collaborative tools. Two research results are described in order to discuss the possibilities and challenges of applying design methods for designing and researching collaborative knowledge building tools. The paper begins by defining collaborative learning with new technologies as a wicked problem that can be approached by adopting a design mindset. Design thinking and particularly research-based design relies on a shared, social construction of understanding with the people who will later use the tools. The key phases in researchbased design (contextual inquiry, participatory design, product design and software as hypothesis) are described and exemplified through the presentation of two research results. The two prototypes presented are the fourth version of the Future Learning Environment (Fle4), a software tool for collaborative knowledge building and Square1, a set of hardware and software for self-organized learning environments. Both cases contribute to the discussion about the role of artifacts as research outcomes. Through these cases, we claim that design thinking is a meaningful ap proach in CSCL research.