Designing and researching technology-enhanced learning for the zone of proximal implementation

  • Susan McKenney Open University of the Netherlands Twente University
Keywords: Learning design, implementation, innovation


Internationally, society is increasingly demanding that the relevance and practical applicability of research be made transparent. Despite intentions to the contrary, insights on pedagogically appropriate uses of educational technology for representative teachers in everyday school settings are severely limited. In part, this is because (design) research is often conducted at the bleeding edge of what is technologically possible – exploring innovative uses of new and emerging technologies. There is no disputing that such work is greatly needed to seek out new ways to potentially enhance the quality of teaching and learning. However, in the excitement of exploring what is possible, tomorrow, insufficient research and development work focuses on what is practical, today. This leaves a problematic gap between what could be effective technology-enhanced learning (TEL) in theory, and what can be effective TEL in practice. This paper calls for designers/researchers of TEL to devote attention to not only fine-grained issues of pupil learning and instruction but also to broader factors that determine if and how innovations are understood, adopted and used by teachers and schools, by designing innovations to align with their zone of proximal implementation. Methodological considerations are given for designing and studying interventions that are prone to implementation by being: value-added, clear, harmonious and tolerant.

Keywords: learning design; implementation; innovation

(Published: 16 September 2013)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology Supplement 2013, 21: 17374 -


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Author Biography

Susan McKenney, Open University of the Netherlands Twente University
Associate Professor
How to Cite
McKenney S. (2013). Designing and researching technology-enhanced learning for the zone of proximal implementation. Research in Learning Technology, 21.
Supplement 1, 2013 - The art and science of learning design