Design for Informal Learning to Satisfy Lunchtime Library User Blog Post 1

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School libraries are many spaces within one larger space and how space is used depends on the need of the user at a particular time of the day.  For example, they can be meeting spaces for teachers and parents before and after school.  They can be formal learning spaces giving lessons in how to navigate a plethora of information sources and how to present final products of information based on research.  They can be spaces to escape the busyness of playground activities to undertake activities that use and develop creativity, reading skills and imagination.

The task is to find a ‘problem space’ that is not serving the purpose it could do, for learning.  The space I chose is the entryway as I needed a space for an informal learning activity that has been directed by the students themselves.  Since the release of the movie Paper Planes on DVD, many of our students are coming to the library to make and experiment with different designs of paper planes.  Initially, they were flying them everywhere in the library and as there is a lot of informal learning going on with their new found interest, we needed to find a space that encouraged rather than discouraged them and met these informal learning needs.

Brown (2009) states that design thinking ‘requires empathy for the user’ (p. 3) and this is exactly what was felt when looking at not only the users needing space for their paper planes but also those users whose needs were breakaway spaces to read, space to catch up with friends and draw/ create artworks, space to play board games and create puppet shows. The identification of the opportunity to add another dimension to our library learning space for lunchtime was as Seidel and Fixson (2013) identify the more formal method of ‘needfinding’ (p. 20).  Together with the students we drew on the requirements for a novel concept and made the clear goal of designing a space that would keep everything needed in one area.

As outlined by Seidel & Fixson (2013), the ‘multidisciplinary team’ (students from Years 2 – 6) brainstormed possible solutions to our opportunity, the second formal method of design thinking and together we decided to build our ‘prototype’ and trial it for 2 weeks.  Linking this brainstorming to prototyping straight away led to an initial successful outcome and as Seidel & Fixson identify in their study once the decision was made as to which design concept we would go with we were able to push forward and focus on the practicalities of design.  At the end of 2 weeks, we will get together and identify if the space is still needed and if so, is it working (Seidel & Fixson, 2013).

As the manager of this learning space, it was my responsibility to guide the students to think creatively and have a ‘can do’ attitude rather than squash their enthusiasm (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012).  The team needed to be proactive and ‘seek the peaceful co-existence of desirability, feasibility and viability'(Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012). I needed to be flexible and open-minded as we promote our library as having space for everyone.

Here are some initial photos of how the space works:

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This is the view coming into the entryway of the library.  The glass doors that can be seen open up into a secondary ‘spillover’ area called the Fishbowl.

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This is the Fishbowl which is another area of redesign but this would involve negotiations and discussions with leadership.  At the moment though, the students can use this space to get on laptops to find YouTube clips on how to make paper planes and collaborate with each other.  the older students are enjoying mentoring the younger students in their endeavours and the circular tables are beneficial for this.

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This space is where you can see the initial design but as Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby (2012) identify,  it is the ‘starting point’ and already within our 2 week trial period we have come up with ideas to display a poster showing what the target is for, a set of numbers to change the numbers that will be added together, adding books about flight and birds to assist students research further designs as in the movie and perhaps have different coloured papers so that students can identify their planes easily once they have flown them.

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Here is one of the students whose turn it is to test his informal learning about planes.

References:

Brown, T. (2009) Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from: http://www.getabstract.com

Seidel, V., & Fixson, S. (2013). Adopting design thinking in novice multidisciplinary teams: The application and limits of design methods and reflexive practices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19–33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12061 or http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/doi/10.1111/jpim.12061/pdf 

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : Transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.

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