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How does it work? | Browse Mode | Design Mode | Participate Mode | Structure of the database | Design vocabulary | Who we are? | Publications | What's New?! | Web Statistics
Why a Design Principles Database?
The DPD is being developed as an infrastructure for designers to publish, connect, discuss and review design ideas. The database is designed to bridge research and design in a communicable and systematic manner. It also has the potential of enabling designers to build on the successes and failures of others rather than reinventing solutions that others have struggled to develop. The database is being built by and is intended to serve the community of educational software designers. Although we expect our main audience to be educational researchers who are involved in software design, we believe other audiences could also benefit. Ultimately, we envision the database informing and guiding communities harvesting their design knowledge, designers creating new applications, teachers and curriculum developers customizing and tailoring existing instructional materials, as well as graduate students in the learning sciences learning about and contributing to the design field. The database synthesizes findings from multiple research groups and also validates these findings by supporting the process of community-wide peer review of innovations.
Design Vocabulary
The design principles project has stimulated the development of an emergent vocabulary to communicate design ideas. Terms used in the database follow: We use feature to refer to any effort to use technology to advance learning. In particular, we use feature to describe designed artifacts, or parts of artifacts, such as modeling tools, simulations, micro-worlds, visualizations, collaboration tools, games, and assessment tools. We define a learning environment as a system that incorporates a set of features along with a navigation system and curriculum materials. We use design principle to refer to an abstraction that connects a feature to some form of rationale. Design principles can be at several levels of specificity. Principles can link to one feature, to several features, and can link several principles together. Design principles emanate from and connect to theories of learning and instruction.
How Does it Work?
The DPD is a set of interconnected features and principles. Each feature is linked with a principle and principles are linked between themselves in a hierarchical manner. Principles in the database are described in three levels of generalization: Specific Principles are those that connect directly to a single feature or single research investigation and provide the specific rationale behind the design of that feature. Pragmatic Principles connect several Specific Principles, and Meta-Principles capture abstract ideas represented in a cluster of Pragmatic Principles. The illustration below represents these multiple connections, and provides examples of software features and principles in the three hierarchical levels.
Structure of the database
The database includes three modes of interaction: a Browse mode, a Participate mode, and a Design mode.
Browse Mode
The Browse mode enables you to find features and principles using any combination between: a) the search option, b) the filters, and c) connections between features and principles. The Browse mode also provides opportunities for online discussions about each of the entries to the database. There is no need to register and login to act in the Browse mode.

Using the Search option
The easiest way to find features and principles which interest you is by using the Search option (on the Browse Mode menu). For instance, if you are looking for features that illustrate the Rock Cycle system, Just type "Rock cycle" in the search window and click "go".

Using filters
If you want to be less specific than in the previous example, you might want to use the "Subject" filter to find all features in earth science. If that's too general you can continue and filter the results by using the "Audience" filter to find those features that are earth science middle school, and continue with the "Category" filter to reduce the list to features that are visualization tools for middle school earth science.

Browsing through connections between features and principles
After finding a feature you are interested in, and viewing its details, you can click on one of the Pragmatic Principles connected to it, and learn more about the general rationale which guided the design of this feature. For instance, if you click Manipulative animated 3D illustrations in Geo3D, you'll see that it is connected to a few Pragmatic Principles. One of them is Reduce visual complexity to help learners recognize salient information. Clicking on this link would show the details of this design principle, and would also show other features connected with this pragmatic principle. Many times viewing other features related to a principle helps understand the scope and meaning of the principle.

Design Mode
The Design mode enables you to design a new technology-based learning environment, guided by our step by step Design Model. The Design model is based on the well known ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) model, in which the Design stage is widened to include three additional stages: Brainstorm, Flow, and Features (see picture). In each of the stages you will be prompted for using features and principles from the DPD. Use the left hand graphic navigation bar to move between the design stages. Click the little green question marks to get instructions for each step. Your outcome would be a design document and a mock-up of your environment, which you’ll be able to use in future stages as a basis for developing your environment. Please note that the Design mode requires registration and login, and is usually performed in groups (courses, workshops, seminars etc.) If you would like to form a group please contact the Editorial Board.
Participate Mode

The Participate mode enables you to contribute software features and design principles and to connect them with other features and principles already in the database.
This mode requires registration and log-in.

Working as individuals
To participate in the DPD you will be required to be part of a group. A default group, which you will automatically be registered to, is the “Individual Users” group. Any entry made in as an individual user will require review of the Editorial Board before publishing.

Working in groups
If you would like to work in a group (course, workshop, seminar etc.) to contribute to the DPD – please contact the Editorial Board we’re happy to open a private group for you, in which you’ll be able to share features and principles in progress, without publishing them in the public area. An editor will need to be assigned to the group (this could be any member of your group, or one of us), who would be able to export any feature or principle to the public area later.

Working in teams within groups
After registration to any of the groups (including the Individual Users), you will be able to create a team to work in. A team is a collaboration between members of a group who are working together on the same entries. For instance, if Yael Kali and Tamar Ronen-Fuhrmann are both registered at the Technion group, they can create a team Yael-Tamar to submit together new entries to the Technion group. This will not prevent them from continuing to work as individuals in this group.

In order to contribute a feature to the database, you will be required to provide several pieces of information including: a detailed description of the feature, a rationale (i.e., the specific design principle that led to the design of the feature), the context in which the feature is used, evidence of success or lack of success, reference, and an image illustrating the feature. You will also be required to choose a category, or several categories to describe the feature (e.g., visualization tools, inquiry tools, communication tools, ubiquitous computing, etc.), and provide URLs for downloads. Finally, you will be required to connect your feature with a pragmatic design principle. If you can't find a pragmatic principle in the database, you can add a new one.

In order to contribute a pragmatic principle, you will be required to provide a detailed description of the principle, theoretical background, goals, limitations, tradeoffs and pitfalls. You will also be required to connect your pragmatic principle to features that are already in the database, and to meta-principles. In this way the database can grow while keeping connectedness between features and principles and between principles in the different levels.

Evolution of the Project
The DPD initially emerged from meetings, conversations, and collaborative activities that occurred between 2001 and 2004. The design principles project started as a grassroots movement and gradually grew to involve a substantial number of educational software designers who contributed to the development of the current form of the Design Principles Database. The project was initiated at the CILT 2000 conference. Participants in the Visualization and Modeling workshop requested a set of guidelines that would synthesize the knowledge in the field and enable designers to create innovative technology-based learning environments that are founded on principled design knowledge. This call resulted in a CILT seed-grant project, which subsequently organized a series of invited face-to-face and online workshops that lead to the development of the Design Principles Database. The database is intended to guide conversations in workshops and interactive poster-sessions, to capture the library of features of technology-enhanced learning environments, to link features, empirical evidence, and theoretical underpinnings of this work, and to synthesize design knowledge at multiple levels of analysis. Today, via the NSF-funded TELS (Technology Enhanced Learning in Science) center, we continue to develop the Design Principles Database and use it as a core framework to capture, synthesize, discuss and disseminate the research-based design ideas of TELS technology software innovations.
Who We Are?

Currently developed and maintained by: NSF-funded TELS (Technology Enhanced Learning in Science)
Project Initiated by: NSF-funded CILT (Center for Innovative Learning Technologies).

Lead by:

  • Yael Kali, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
  • Marcia Linn, University of California, Berkeley

Editorial Board:
  • Yael Kali, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
  • Tamar Ronen Fuhrmann - Israel Institute of Technology
  • Rachel Levin-Peled - Israel Institute of Technology
  • Suki Lechner - Israel Institute of Technology


  • Yoav Kali - IT Specialist


In Press

  • Kali, Y., Linn, M. C., & Roseman, J. E. (in press). Designing coherent science education. NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Kali, Y., Fortus, D., & Ronen-Fuhrmann, T. (in press). Synthesizing design knowledge. In Y. Kali, M. C. Linn & J. E. Roseman (Eds.), Designing Coherent Science Education. NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Kali, Y. (in press). The Design Principles Database as means for promoting design-based research. In A. E. Kelly, R. A. Lesh & J. Y. Baek (Eds.), Handbook of Innovative Design Research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Kali, Y., & Linn, M. C. (in press). Curriculum design - as subject matter: Science. In B. McGraw, E. Baker & P. Peterson (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (3rd Edition): Elsevier.
  • Kali, Y., & Linn, M. C. (in press). Designing effective visualizations for elementary school science. Elementary School Journal.


  • Ronen-Fuhrmann, T., Kali, Y., & Hoadley, C. M. (2008). Helping education students understand learning through designing. Educational Technology, 48 (2), 26-33.
  • Hans, M., Kali, Y., & Yair, Y. (2008). Spatial Perception of the Moon Phases: Designing a Web-based Module for Middle-School Students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.
  • Hans, M., Kali, Y., & Yair, Y. (2008). Promoting Middle-School Spatial Perception of the Moon Phases with a Web-Based Module. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Baltimore, MD.


  • Kali, Y., & Linn, M. C. (2007). Technology-enhanced support strategies for inquiry learning. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. J. G. V. Merrienboer & M. P. Driscoll (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (3rd Edition) (pp. 445-490). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Hans, M., Kali, Y., & Yair, Y. (2007). Spatial perception of the moon phases: Using design-principles for the development of a Web-based module for middle-school students. Proceedings of the 2nd Chais conference for the study of educational technologies, 2007, The Open University, Raanana, Israel (in Hebrew)
  • Kali, Y., Levin-Peled, R., & Dori, Y. J. (2007). How can hybrid courses designed with socio-constructivist design-principles promote learning in higher education? In T. Bastiaens & S. Carliner (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2007: World conference on e-learning in corporate, government, healthcare, & higher education (pp. 6071-6078). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
  • Kali, Y., & Ronen-Fuhrmann, T. (2007). How can the design of educational technologies affect graduate students' epistemologies about learning? . In C. A. Chinn, G. Erkens & S. Puntambekar (Eds.), Proceedings of the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) 2007: Mice, Minds and Society (pp. 320-322). International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.
  • Levin-Peled., R., Kali, Y., & Dori, Y. J. (2007). Promoting collaborative learning in higher education: Design principles for hybrid courses. In C. A. Chinn, G. Erkens & S. Puntambekar (Eds.), Proceedings of the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) 2007: Mice, Minds and Society (pp. 418-427). International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.
  • Ronen-Fuhrmann, T., & Kali, Y. (2007). Learning to design educational technologies: Instructional model based on a design-principles database. Proceedings of the 2nd Chais conference for the study of educational technologies, 2007, The Open University, Raanana, Israel. (in Hebrew)
  • Ronen-Fuhrmann, T., Kali, Y., & Hoadley, C. M. (2007). Engaging graduate students in design as means for enhancing their epistemological understanding of learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Chicago, IL.


  • Kali, Y., (2006). Collaborative knowledge-building using the Design Principles Database. International Journal of Computer Support for Collaborative Learning, 1(2), 187-201.
  • Dori, Y.J., Levin-Peled R., and Kali, Y. (2006). Learning and assessment in IT-based environments: Design principles for hybrid courses in higher education. Proc. E-Learn – world conference on E-learning in corporate, government, health care and higher education. Honolulu, HI, USA, Oct. 13-17, pp. 1933-1939.
  • Kali, Y., Ronen-Fuhrmann, T., Linn M.C., & Holmes, J. (2006). TELS knowledge integration design process. Paper presented at the structured poster session Knowledge Integration as a Framework for Research Partnerships. NARST annual meeting 2006, SF.


  • Kali, Y., & Ronen, M. (2005). Design principles for online peer-evaluation: Fostering objectivity. In T. Koschmann, D. Suthers & T. W. Chan (Eds.), Proceedings of CSCL 2005: Computer support for collaborative learning: The Next 10 Years! (pp. 247–251). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Kali, Y., & Ronen-Fuhrmann, T. (2005). Designing technology-based curricula using the design principles database. Paper presented at the structured poster session “Technology enhanced learning in science: An educational accelerator for classrooms, research and design”. The 2005 annual meeting of the American educational Research Association (AERA), Demography & democracy in the era of accountability, Montreal, 2005.


  • Kali, Y., Spitulnik, M., & Linn, M. (2004). Building Community Using the Design Principles Database. In P. Gerjets, P. A. Kirschner, P. A. Allen, J. Elen & R. Joiner (Eds.), Instructional Design for effective and enjoyable computer-supported learning. Proceedings of the first joint meeting of the EARLI SIGs Instructional Design and Learning and Instruction with Computers (pp. 294-305). Tuebingen: Knowledge Media Research Center.
  • Spitulnik, M.W., & Kali, Y. (2004). Refining the model building process - a teacher's second year in using the Rock-cycle project. Paper presented as part of the Symposium Science Teachers becoming adept with promoting inquiry using technology at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. San Diego, CA. April 2004.


  • Kali, Y. and Spitulnik, M. (2003). Web-based Rock-cycle module: Evaluation of a prototype magmatic-processes unit using a systems-thinking lens. Paper presented at the fourth international conference of Geoscience education, Calgary, Canada.
  • Kali, Y., Spitulnik, M., and Linn M. (2003). The CILT design principles database: A new form of synthesis for technology-based curriculum design. Interactive poster session at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, Ill.
  • Kali, Y., Spitulnik, M., and Linn M. (2003). Design Principles for Educational Software. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, Ill.
  • Linn, M., Kali, Y., Baumgartner, E., Songer, N., and diSessa A. (2003). Visualization and Modeling. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, Ill.
  • Spitulnik, M., and Kali, Y. (2003). Supporting the model building process – A case study of a teacher using the Rock-cycle project. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, Ill.


  • Kali, Y. (2002). CILT2000: Visualization and modeling. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 11(3), 305-310.
  • Kali, Y., Bos, N., Linn, M. C., Underwood, J., & Hewitt, J. (2002). Design Principles for Educational Software. In G. Stahl (Ed.), Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community (Proceedings of CSCL 2002). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
What's New?!
Features updates:
  • On updated the feature:
Principles updates:
  • On made a update to the principle:
General news:
Web Statistics (Updated on December 2008)
During 2008 there were 24528 unique visits to the DPD. An average of 2044 unique visits per month. As can be seen from the December 2008 example (table 2), top countries that visit the DPD are European countries, US and Israel (largest bandwidth).

MonthUnique visitorsNumber of visitsPagesHitsBandwidth
Jan 20081880234415227909512.15 GB
Feb 20081549189510709669681.47 GB
Mar 2008202523179360594641.91 GB
Apr 2008199922529105643432.21 GB
May 200820662471133531011302.09 GB
Jun 2008165019816538572781.50 GB
Jul 2008133117538962499131.29 GB
Aug 2008131316397700472071.43 GB
Sep 20082130251912407792072.66 GB
Oct 200824742955191451108263.57 GB
Nov 200837254918922713465226.78 GB
Dec 200823863358788853031835.97 GB
Total2452830402283662137699233.03 GB

December 2008 visits:
Countries (Top 25)
ilIsraelil550331969423.00 GB

euEuropean countryeu19300718171.34 GB

usUnited Statesus2261195371014.43 MB

esSpaines40960415.60 MB

gbGreat Britaingb2462100113.54 MB

nzNew Zealandnz18391015.05 MB

caCanadaca167153272.51 MB

nlNetherlandsnl13456119.11 MB

deGermanyde13051823.37 MB

grGreecegr1234928.48 MB

inIndiain114101444.68 MB

cnChinacn9532715.48 MB

phPhilippinesph5853525.65 MB

mxMexicomx522918.91 MB

thThailandth4138213.50 MB

auAustraliaau3657233.13 MB

sgSingaporesg341593.14 MB

frFrancefr3350018.15 MB

irIranir3037020.13 MB

trTurkeytr2721812.37 MB

hkHong Konghk2730815.23 KB

itItalyit1935320.39 MB

atAustriaat18952.04 MB

ruRussian Federationru1730256.24 KB

lvLatvialv17441.80 MB

 Others2813250162.81 MB