When people ask me what is my research about I often get nervous. Depending a bit about the person asking, I may reply that my research is about educational technology, e-learning research, computer-supported collaborative learning, use of computers in teaching and learning, social media and learning, new media and learning, Web and mobile things in learning etc. All this is true, but I also feel that with these answers I am loosing something essential.
I feel uncomfortable to define my research with these concepts. Sometimes I even end-up to explain that our research is kind of “e-learning research” but we do it differently. This get people very confused.
On the other hand, when you do not know the background of the person asking — that is often the case — one must use terms and concepts you expect them to be familiar with. Still, I would like to be precise but also present the special characters of our work.
Within the learning environments research group we have before define ourselves that we are “theory-based, design-oriented”. That is a nice motto and even some kind of description. That tells a bit what we do and how we do it. The difficulty to tell “how we” do it has been a challenge.
Recently I have used the phrase: Practice-based design research of learning tools. I think it has everything what I do. Simple. I do “design research”, with a methodological approach relying on “practice”. My object of design research are learning tools.
Now you know.