9 design principles

Why design principles? Why bother reading on about design principles? Design principles are fundamental to creating effective and impactful digital learning experiences. By understanding these principles, we can create LearnTech (vs. EdTech) that not only engage learners but also empowers them to take control of their own learning journey.

At its core, digital empowerment of self-regulated learning is about adding value to learners' lives and supporting them in achieving their unique learning path. This is why we have developed personas to guide our design process (which you can find by scrolling down). Each design principle we discuss is accompanied by practical examples and stories that illustrate its application, which you can access by clicking on the relevant link at the bottom of each principle.

By incorporating these design principles into the development of LearnTech, we can create meaningful and impactful tools that truly transform the learning experience. So, if you want to design digital solutions truly empower learners and help them achieve their full potential, learning about these 9 design principles is recomendable first step. 

9 Design Principles? 

Below, we formulate 9 generic design principles, focused on the situation in Flanders.  Each principle is flanked by what it means for one of our characters. 


<context-driven personalization>

Designing for learner-centered contexts means creating learning experiences that prioritize the needs, interests, and goals of the learner. Lifelong learning has become a crucial attitude, and research shows that metacognition and self-regulated learning (SRL) have the most significant impact on student progress (+7 months) while being cost-effective. Moreover, evidence strongly supports the role of context in designing SRL (Järvelä and Hadwin, 2013). Therefore, investing in educational technology that focuses on these areas would bring substantial value to the entire EdTech ecosystem, including government, educational providers, tech companies, and e-content creators.

Story van Arber & Koen

<dynamic learning structure>

Learner-centred designs (Bransford, Brown, Cocking, 2000) in the digital age require more grasp of how we can digitally support learning these designs in schools. 

Teaching teams need to be able to design for themselves how they approach learning processes like projects, remediation, subject based learning etc. 

A generic and interoperable structure for digital learning process design could provide a dynamic fundament that allow schools to design their own learning processes blueprints. 

A <dynamic learning structure> like the Learning M!X, contains components such as <sets>, structuring groups of learning activities and customizable <rules of play>.  Blueprints can then be saved as a template for lesson preparation, leading us to the next design principle.

Story van Sofie en Elke

<shared learning blueprints>

School teams can use the <dynamic learning structure> to collaboratively develop a didactic approach for teaching and learning (Pedagogy-Driven Design, Looi; Seow et al (2010). They can use these resources to structure learning processes, including corner work, co-teaching, differentiation, remediation, flexible learning, and learning projects, and to offer, adapt, and combine their own and purchased, digital and physical learning activities. Through the use of shared learning blueprints, schools can develop a growing library of resources that enable the exchange of best practices and support continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

Story van Ellen

<learning activity = Key>

With the learning activity serving as the foundation, digital tools and e-content can seamlessly integrate and be tailored to the learner's individual needs and school context. This enables the creation of a unified environment where:

Story van Koen en Elke

<data for visual learning>

If school teams can create their own data dashboards drawn from their own learning process designs, this would result in more manageable and coachable classroom practices. 

These dashboards would provide a powerfull insight into schools own learning designs, making informed decision making without extra workload possible. 

Also, effects a school designed structure of the learning process or school-tailored <rules of play> such as <self estimation>, <self-evaluation>, or <task understanding> would be easy to asses. 

Story van Koen en Yassine

<goal dashboards>

Without goal dashboards, goal-oriented work and evaluation is very plan-load-intensive. Each learning activity can generate metadata on goals. This gives teachers easier insight on questions like:

Story van Elke

<digital innovation platform>

The network always wins! We need integration platform! This is only possible if the EdTech network and education have digital connections and if interoperability is an important starting point in it. 

having a <digital innovation platform> would make it easier for schools to test-run innovative tools  and measure the effects.

For example, in Flandes, the i-learn project could be maintained as an innovation platform to take on that role.

Story van Ellen

<digital unburdening> 

A GDPR-compliant data architecture relieves the burden on implementation and digital innovation in education. The <digital innovation platform> is connecting schools with (new) edtech tools and content. SSO functionality with a government-approved learning ID in GDPR-proof access,  securing and archiving.

This SOLID-like architecture  gives data ownership to the end user (learner) and provides a future proofinfrastructure.
Story van Sofie

<co-creation framework>

The innovation process is very challenging. Human-centred design requires a thoughtful approach and clear processes, preferably in co-creation with schools. Expectations differ according the phase of innovation they cover: co-creation, testing, piloting,  implementation.  

The education field and EdTech would benefit from clear frameworks and facilities that can guide such processes. This would ensure that Start Ups and schools have fair opportunities in pursuing their ambitions. Guidance services and research centres also have a place in such frameworks that can facilitate the roles of each stakeholder. 

Story van Bob

What design principles would you sign for?

Voor Welke design principes zou jij tekenen?

You can adjust or sign our design principles via the form.

The story of 3 pupils & 2 teachers!

Below, we outline the background of some pupils and teachers. For each design principle, you can also click on more specific stories at the bottom to clarify the design principle from a practice-oriented perspective. 


Arber feels tension rising every time the teacher gives him a new task. He knows he has difficulty absorbing and understanding new information. He therefore finds it very exciting when his teacher explains to them that they will be given all the learning activities for a whole week at once. More so, instead of just listening to the teacher, he can now learn together by working on assignments with others. Above all, learning at his own pace makes him less insecure. Through the approach and clear rules of play Mr Koen, Arber is gradually just getting more confident. Arber feels reassured by this approach and notices how he is better able to understand the subject matter and develop his skills. 


Sofie is a student that is always looking for new challenges. In class, she hears her teacher explain how they get more responsibility for their own learning. She notices that she can manage her own learning more, which she likes and challenges her. She notices that it is important to understand enough of the theory herself before she gets started and how to ensure that. She has a friendly and collaborative attitude, and also enjoys helping her classmates. Sofie thus also learns about the importance of cooperation and how working together works.


Yassine often sits quietly at the back of the classroom. He does not notice well what is going on around him. He prefers it when he disappears into the background. But his teacher, Mr Koen explains to him that from now on they will be given more responsibility for their own learning and that everyone, including Yassine, has a role in it. Also in helping each other. After a while, Yassine notices that this makes him more involved in the learning process, but also that it gives him a chance to make his voice heard and develop his skills.


Structure leads to focus and performance

My name is Koen and I am an enthusiastic and experienced maths and STEM-teacher. I love to inspire and challenge my students, and I firmly believe in the importance of lifelong learning. 

On top of a foundation of good teaching building blocks, I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching methods and increase the interest of my students. As challenging as it may be, I am and always will be a strong advocate of self-regulation and social learning and always try to encourage my pupils to work together and help each other. I want to be there for them and train them to become competent and responsible adults. 

Therefore, I find it necessary to design a clear structure for my learning processes. My students become familiar with this and thus also implicitly learn how to manage their learning effectively. Digital helps me with this, but I would like to be able to work in a more integrated way. 


Didactic ground rules help grow their autonomy

My name is Elke. I see myself as someone who approaches things rationally and purposefully. This is also how I look at my classroom practice. I love developing efficient and effective teaching methods and always strive for the best results for my students. I want to help my students achieve the best results in an efficient way. 

That is why I put a strong emphasis on self-reflection and self-regulation in addition to a sound didactic approach. Once that catches on, it really acts as a turbo on my students' learning ability. I therefore like to create a safe and supportive learning environment. 

I worked out didactic ground rules. These are simple conventions that help learners navigate through the learning process autonomously and together (see Koen). For example, <self estimate> or <tick off>. We make the status of those ground rules visible, which helps students and myself to keep ZRL (Self-Regulated Learning) manageable.  Koen and I are looking for a digital tool that can integrate all that more.