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Guidelines for designing inquiry-based learning on the Web: Online professional development of educators

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


This study sought to identify guidelines for designing online inquiry-based learning environments (OILEs) for professional development for teachers. Specific questions were: (1) What design elements are currently being used to facilitate inquiry on the Web, (2) What are the critical characteristics of online inquiry based learning environments, (3) What structure and scaffolding would be necessary to facilitate inquiry on the Web, and (4) What would appropriate design elements be in terms of facilitating inquiry on the Web?

In order to understand online inquiry-based learning environments and articulate design guidelines, three cases that used an inquiry-based learning approach on the Web were selected: WebQuest, Inquiry Page, and the Learning to Teach with Technology Studio. Interviews with designers, developers, and teacher-learners were conducted, in addition to document analyses. Strengths and weaknesses of each case were identified. A model for designing OILEs was first developed, based on principles derived from the case studies. Next, an initial set of more than 60 prescriptive guidelines for designing OILEs was created. Following review by several professionals in the field, guidelines were subsequently revised.

The model has three levels: (1) an inquiry module, (2) a nurturing environment, and (3) a community of inquiry. The design guidelines suggested in this study cover four main areas: (1) assessment of the preconditions, (2) design of an inquiry module, (3) design of a nurturing environment, and (4) design of a community of inquiry. Based on comments by reviewers of the guidelines, unresolved issues were identified. These issues include: (1) asking a right question, (2) promoting ownership, (3) using multiple levels of representations, (4) using national curriculum standards, (5) using a design mode, (6) planning inquiry, (7) carrying out systematic investigation, (8) using inquiry performance, (9) ensuring effective reflection, (10) providing scaffolding, (11) providing resources, (12) using various cognitive tools, (13) developing customized space, and (14) developing a community of inquiry. Also, three other general issues were discussed: (1) visual representation of structure for inquiry, (2) teacher-as-designer approach, and (3) instructional use of OILEs.


Lim, B.R. Guidelines for designing inquiry-based learning on the Web: Online professional development of educators. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved October 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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