A design framework for educational hypermedia systems: theory, research, and learning emerging scientific conceptual perspectives

Research Article


This paper focuses on theory and research issues associated with the use of hypermedia technologies in education. It is proposed that viewing hypermedia technologies as an enabling infrastructure for tools to support learning—in particular learning in problem-based pedagogical environments involving cases—has particular promise. After considering research issues with problem-based learning related to knowledge transfer and conceptual change, a design framework is discussed for a hypermedia system with scaffolding features intended to support and enhance problem-based learning with cases. Preliminary results are reported of research involving a new version of this hypermedia design approach with special ontological scaffolding to explore conceptual change and far knowledge transfer issues related to learning advanced scientific knowledge involving complex systems as well as the use of the system in a graduate seminar class. Overall, it is hoped that this program of research will stimulate further work on learning and cognitive sciences theoretical and research issues, on the characteristics of design features for robust and educationally powerful hypermedia systems, on ways that hypermedia systems might be used to support innovative pedagogical approaches being used in the schools, and on how particular designs for learning technologies might foster learning of conceptually difficult knowledge and skills that are increasingly necessary in the 21st century.


Hypermedia Hypertext Technology design Problem based learning Conceptual change Transfer 



The preparation of this paper has been supported in part by the Singapore Learning Sciences Laboratory at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. Research projects by the author that were discussed in this paper have been supported in part by grants from the Singapore Learning Sciences Laboratory, Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency, Allison Group, National Science Foundation (RED-9253157 and RED-9616389), Spencer Foundation, the University of Georgia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Special thanks are extended to Dr. Sylvia d’Apollonia who produced the digital video clip of a moving slime mold aggregation for the Complex Systems Knowledge Mediator. Dr. Sharona Levy and Dr. Elizabeth Charles provided very helpful feedback on the content in an early version of the Complex Systems Knowledge Mediator (although any content errors remain the responsibility of the author), and Dr. Manu Kapur contributed challenging questions and thoughtful suggestions on an earlier version of this paper. The assistance of Phoebe Chen Jacobson, HyungShin Kim, Keol Lim, Foo Keong Ng, Seo-Hong Lim, June Lee, and Sok-Hua Low on recent research and development activities discussed in this paper is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Learning Sciences Laboratory, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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