Impact of Space

Doorley & Witthoft (2012 p.30) impress upon us that space is something that can create an impact on the way we learn, work and play immediately. So, starting with what you have, make a change. In your learning environment, is there an empty space? Find one, take it and transform it, quickly. You might consider making a pop-up learning space from scratch for a short period of time, or adapting an existing space in a small way with the goal of making a difference to learning.

What did you change or transform quickly in your learning environment?

Early last week I was working with  Stage 2 teachers to plan their Science unit for the term.

The teachers decided to have a question box so that students could write questions relating to the topic as they thought of them. This would form the basis of their search for a question/s to pursue for their Guided Inquiry project.

I suppose that the problem I identified here was that students could not see the questions as they were formed – this could lead to duplication as well as delay in finding answers. Students would need to wait for the time when the teacher would open the box to reveal the questions. Wouldn’t it be better for the students to be able to respond to questions as soon as possible following the asking? Someone may already have the answer, or be motivated to find out as soon as possible

My challenge was to transform the learning space – a shoe box – into  a more accessible learning space.

According to Razzouk (2012: 336), some of the characteristics of design-thinkers include the continuous consideration of how what is being created will respond to people’s needs, looking at alternatives before making a final choice on the way to proceed, keeping the big picture in mind whilst also focussing on specifics. So, i will keep an eye on the new space to see if it is being used by the students, particularly with regard to the intention.

I suggested that they use Ewan’s Googleable and Non-Googleable question idea. The questions would be there for all to see, the students could start to understand the difference between questions that can be answered quickly (Googleable) and those that would stimulate discussion and collaboration on a search for answers to deeper questions (Non-Googleable).

When I read the forum topic, I decided to ask the class teacher if I could transform a space in her classroom.

The area was a small alcove off the main space. It is a wet area and a dumping ground for broken chairs, rubbish bin, old worksheets and anything else that has nowhere to live.

This space is serving no purpose related to learning and actually could contribute about 15% more learning space in a very modestly sized classroom.

The beauty of this proposed transformation is that it desirable, feasible and viable – elements of design thinking as stated by Kuratko (2012:110)

Question Cave: BEFOREThis would become the class Question Cave.

I cleared the space and set up the wall with the headings under which the students would add their questions.I also attached paper to the side of the filing cabinet that could not be moved. This will be used for students to add diagrams and any drawing they think will make explaining an idea or concept easier.

Question Cave: AFTER

The students are very excited and can’t wait to start adding their own questions to the wall.

They are also feeling in competitive mode – who can provide answers to the Googleable questions?


Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson. Accessed online
Razzouk, R., Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. Accessed online

Comment 1 – on Helen Bailie’s Blog

Comment 2  – on Simon Goss’s Blog

Comment 3 – 0n Helen’s Blog



3 thoughts on “Impact of Space

  1. This is a fantastic idea, Michele! Thanks for sharing! I’d be incredibly interested in seeing how the Question Cave progresses. 🙂

  2. The question cave! Fantastic! It’s so simple but the impact of having 15% more learnable space is massive. I’d love to hear more about the impact since its creation, now that we’re a couple of weeks down the road. Are you able to give a quick update?

  3. The Question Cave has been active for quite a few weeks now.
    It has made an enormous difference to the Guided Inquiry that the students have begun. The unit of work is based around “Night and Day”. The questions they are exploring include questions such as, ” Why is space exploration important to us?”, “How would we be affected if the Earth did not revolve around the sun?”
    The presentations bear no resemblance to what would have been standard presentations about the sun, earth and moon.
    The teachers have been amazed at how the Non-Googleable questions can have an amazing impact on student enthusiasm as well as provide a way to ensure students are investigating a question that excites them. Such a great response with virtually no effort.

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