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Empowering Design-Based Implementation Research: The Need for Infrastructure


by Nora Sabelli & Chris Dede — 2013

This chapter discusses frameworks and conceptual lenses that help orient design-based implementation research (DBIR) work to the types of infrastructure required for success, while contributing to theories about the processes of educational improvement. Such infrastructures can be conceived as a framework: a set of interconnected elements that facilitate the integrated development of an initiative, provide a continuing narrative for this development, create shared responsibility for its implementation, and facilitate its sustainability. The chapter posits that several types of infrastructure are necessary for successful, sustainable DBIR, including conceptual frameworks that attend to issues of scale, human capacity, technical support, policies, organizational learning, and long-term funding. In addition, the chapter discusses the roles that feedback loops, intermediary organizations, and multiple timescales play in systemic educational improvement, and describes how attention to these different infrastructural needs can lead to sustained improvements and support their evolution over time. The chapter also comments on theoretical and practical advances in social policy that often are not integrated into learning sciences research but are crucial for evolutionary educational improvement, including using organizational learning as a measure of progress, attending to social feedback loops and networks inside and outside of schooling, and utilizing the tools of policy informatics.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 112. No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 14, 2013, p. 464-480
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18364, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 7:56:28 PM

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About the Author
  • Nora Sabelli
    SRI International
    E-mail Author
    NORA SABELLI is senior science advisor at the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International. Her research interests are science education, the role of technology in education, and educational policy informatics. Recent publications include “Organizing Research and Development at the Intersection of Learning, Implementation, and Design” (2011, Educational Researcher) with William Penuel, Barry Fishman, and Britte Cheng, and “Complex Systems and Educational Change: Towards a new research agenda” (2008, Educational Philosophy and Theory) with Jay Lemke.
  • Chris Dede
    Harvard University
    E-mail Author
    CHRIS DEDE is the Wirth Professor in Learning Technology at Harvard University in the Graduate School of Education. His research interests span emerging technologies for learning, educational policy, and leadership in educational innovation. Recent publications include “Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student” (2012, Teachers College Press) edited with John Richards, and “Opportunities and Challenges for Educational Transformation via Learning Technologies” (in press, in J. Guthrie (Ed.) More with Less: Providing America with the Schools It Must Have at a Price We Can Afford)
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