The Design Principles Database (DPD) was developed to capture, coalesce and synthesize design knowledge (http://edu-design-principles.org). It is a public mechanism to support researchers and curriculum designers to share their design knowledge in the form of design principles, exemplified by descriptions of features from technology-based learning environments. Each feature in the DPD is linked with a principle and principles are linked between themselves in a hierarchical manner in three levels of generalization (see figure x). Each design principle provides a rationale, theoretical underpinning, and considerations, such as pitfalls, tradeoffs and limits of practical use, to help designers benefit from the many example features it is connected with in the DPD.
Figure 1: Schematic representation of the structure of the DPD (Kali, 2006)
Between 2001 and 2008, the DPD was open to contributions from the public; designers of educational technologies (teachers, curriculum designers, researchers, etc.) were able to publish, connect, discuss and review design ideas. In this manner it served both as a collaborative knowledge building tool for the community (Kali, 2006), and as means for promoting design-based research (Kali, 2008). Currently, the DPD serves as a resource that can be used to: (a) guide novices in a design process as part of a structured design course or workshop (Ronen-Fuhrmann & Kali, this issue), (b) assist more experienced designers in clarifying their own rationales behind features they are designing and see how others have tackled similar design challenges, and what are the “design tips” they provide, and (c) serve researchers in synthesizing design research using the example principles and features of the DPD, as well as the structure it provides for connecting the three levels of design principles and features.
In this article, the DPD was used to analyze the second lesson of the Healthy Eating lesson series (ref). To do so, specific features in the activities designed for this lesson were inspected in terms of the rationales that the designers had for designing them, as can be determined by the description of the activities in the Anastopoulou et al. (2011) article, and by design notes that were made available to us for the purpose of writing this paper. After the rationales were elicited, a design principle with a similar rationale in the DPD was sought. Table X represents the results of this exercise: four features in the Healthy Eating lesson and the corresponding design principles from the DPD that were found relevant to them.
Table 1: Features in the Healthy Eating lesson and corresponding design principles from the DPD
Readers of this article are encouraged to use the links in table X to explore the design principles, the features connected to them the tips for designers, and to envision how these might be useful in a design process, as well as in a “post-mortem” analysis of a design.