Design Cycle

An 8 steps circular and iterative process used to systematically develop and test new (educational) solutions for issues of relevance to stakeholders in a given domain. According to Scheffel et al. (2021), these 8 steps can be regrouped into 4 blocks and described as follows:

Identify – from insight to idea. Educational design problems are usually complex and require creativity to be solved [Sl13]. Their solution is found the quickest when conceived by heterogeneous teams of experts. At the beginning of the cycle it is important to define the goal(s) (Step 1) of the blended LD and to identify challenges (Step 2).

Combine – from idea to creation. If the design challenge is set out in a rough form, the next phase is to further explore what the current situation is, which learning activities were selected, what the possible social interactions are that are planned, and, in particular, which contextual factors were taken into account. This is done by finding inspiration (Step 3) from others and to then analyse (Step 4) which of the gathered ideas can be used.

Realise – from creation to product. In this phase, the components of didactic action are filled in and elaborated into a specific design development (Step 5). The prototype (Step 6) is then implemented in the LMS and presented to stakeholders for further development into the final educational product, i.e. the course or module.

Investigate – from product to insight. The first implementation of the module takes place in this phase of the model; the course/module will run for the first time and will then be evaluated (Step 7). Adjustments and adaptations (Step 8) can be made based on the evaluation, i.e. the model’s cycle is repeated on the basis of the evaluation data, albeit at a faster pace. In this phase we can still speak of a prototype as it is assumed that various iterations are needed for optimisation.


Scheffel, M., Schmitz, M., van Hooijdonk, J., van Limbeek, E., Kockelkoren, C., Joppe, D., & Drachsler, H. (2021). The Design Cycle for Education (DC4E). DELFI 2021.

Reinking, D. (2021). Design-Based Research in Education: Theory and Applications. Guilford Publications.