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Welcome to the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future's Virtual Design Center! Researchers at the Classroom of the Future™ developed the Virtual Design Center to provide other educational researchers and educational technology designers with research-based guidelines to help them design inquiry-based learning activities. The main purposes of the Virtual Design Center are to:

  • Create a resource that stimulates the development of research-based learning technologies and activities for scientific inquiry.

  • Share new knowledge about how you can apply learning theories to learning technologies and activities to promote scientific inquiry in K-12 classrooms.

  • Help designers to align their development with science and learning standards and to meet NASA product review criteria.

  • Promote the design of learning technologies and activities that support literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and inspire learners to pursue STEM careers.

GOAL. When you take part in the Virtual Design Center process, you’ll go through six steps to develop a preliminary design document. Your design document will describe an inquiry-based activity that uses technology. You will follow teaching and learning best practices that are supported by research and align with science and learning standards.

YOUR TEAM AND WORK PLAN. If you are in the process of forming your design team, consider bringing people with various expertise. Having people on your team with the following backgrounds can be especially helpful:

  • Science

  • Education (for example, a teacher)

  • Instructional design

  • Technology

Any one individual might serve multiple roles on your team. Depending on your needs, each team member can plan on spending 20-40 hours to complete the six steps. Once you send a request to the Virtual Design Center, a facilitator will help your team complete a work plan agreement for your project. Whether you progress through the steps with the facilitator or on your own, try to complete the deliverables as specified within your work plan. Download the following document to start your work plan.

REQUEST FOR FACILITATION. To request a facilitator for the Virtual Design Center steps, e-mail us at In the subject header type "Request for facilitation." Include the following in your message:

  • Your name

  • Your organization affiliation

  • The names of your team members and their projected roles

  • Contact information for each team member (e-mail addresses, phone numbers)

  • A brief description of the project

  • Your preferred contact method and a good time to contact you by phone

  • An estimated start date

  • Any questions you have (for example, facilitation fees)

The facilitator will guide you through the steps and consult with you after you submit each deliverable. We look forward to helping you design your next inquiry-based learning activity.


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