Colloquium #4 Cathie Howe and MacICT

My favourite part of this colloquium was the realisation that for many teachers, pedagogy has become a four letter word! We’re not at uni anymore, they say.

I can’t imagine how they would react if their doctors said, sorry – not learning anymore. I know enough from my training 30 years ago to treat you now! Or the pilots who say, I trained on a DC3 so the A380 will be a snack….It’s no wonder schools have trouble articulating p_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.

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MacICT design professional learning for teachers and schools that encourage collaboration and try to build capacity in teachers and in teams. The concept is to sustain change in pedagogy. They use a highly iterative process, according to Cathie Howe, their Executive Director. Focusing on computational and design thinking, maker spaces, take a strong stance on learning and aim to encourage teachers to be pedagogically fluent. (there’s that word again!)

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It’s all in the design.

Leaders & tech

Instructional designers recognise the importance of focusing on the pedagogy, on the learner, not the teacher. The left column is the easier bit, but often educators forget why they’re doing what they doing. Is it just to use a nifty new tool? Good instructional design brings the learner back to the centre, and make the interactions that are planned for most effective. Richard Culatta has a hefty amount of criticism for online courses that upload enormous amounts of content without considering how it will be perceived and absorbed by the learner – the moral equivalent of writing notes on the board and expecting students to copy them indiscriminately. He wants to know how we include interactions in these new environments that are about the learners and their interaction with one another, and not just with the teacher or the content. The value is building the social interaction in the classroom, because that’s where the deep learning is.

Culatta, R. (2009). Designing online learning. YouTube. Retrieved  from

Debbie Morrison’s view on instructional design, focusing on the importance of good planning for online learning spaces is interesting, given her belief that that the classroom walls somehow created boundaries for instruction and learning.This paints a grim picture of what teachers have done in the past. She is trying to say that online learning spaces can’t be treated as a free-for-all and that pedagogical purpose and design is paramount.

Jon Bergmann, one of the original proponents of the flipped classroom, underlines the importance of the design that needs to go into the learning experience.

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That problem space…

The magazine reading area, just inside the glassed entry to our Library, has already passed through several iterations in the two years I’ve been on staff. Initially it was a storage area for journals; with up to 5 years of back issues. It was messy and they were rarely used. New front-facing shelving, comfortable seating (now moved out of the area) and a severe cull of past issues revamped the space. It’s far less messy but the journals are still rarely used. Students like to ensconce themselves in the space but there is little interaction with the actual journals, apart from past issues of the school magazine. I perceive an inherent philosophical question as to the virtue of maintaining this space as the “Magazine area” when the users don’t want them, and they become wallpaper and a physical impediment to optimal use of the space.


We need a design process so we look more creatively at space. We need to observe how people actually use the space, as suggested by Tim Brown, and if we are to “create choice” then the process has to establish how inspiration and ideation facilitate a breadth of ideas, rather than a fixed one.  While form may follow function, function will not be determined by form when users reject an imposed function upon space.

I’ve come to the view that our desire to encourage journal use has created a very boxed space as well as boxed-in thinking, from which we will not be moved. One of the greatest challenges in space design is the ability of non-designers to think like one. All design thinking is ultimately social, suggests Meinel and Leifer, and indeed, as of his writing in 1992,  design thinking has moved to what Buchanan calls a “new liberal art of technological culture” from its original pragmatic role. Design is centred on people, and their desires and practices are at the centre of the design thinking process. Using divergent and convergent thinking, Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby suggest we can be creative in everything we do. Good design speaks for itself. David Kelley asserts we can all learn to choose better ideas and to make better decisions. His example of the MRI machine and the thinking that went into its transformation into a pirate ship, illustrates the ultimate empathy with the user, in this case, children with health issues.


Relocating the shelving and newspaper stand leaves one bare brick wall and half a wall which follows the stairs. Horizontal banners which climb the stair wall would suggest places to go in their digital world. The brick wall would be a flexible space for displays relating specifically to students. The only journal they really like is the school magazine, so why wait for an annual production? This week’s micro-magazine on a new media wall. An LCD TV, scrolling news bites with images of students and their activities, alternating with Clickview or other promotional ideas. Comfortable seating would return, along with coffee table work spaces, replacing traditional height tables and chairs. The corners would adapt themselves well to pop-up makerspaces. This week we have a challenge to make 1000 paper cranes – no fanfare, just origami squares and a running tally. We have 180 after 3 days and the students don’t need any prompting. One of the important aspects is the surprise, fun factor. The user is directing the way the space is used.

Makerspace.With boys



Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21

Kelley, D. (2012). How to build your creative confidence.

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

Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph (2013). Design Thinking Research : Building Innovation Eco-Systems. Retrieved from

Liedtka, J. (2011). Learning to use design thinking tools for successful innovation. Strategy & Leadership, 39(5), 13-19. doi:

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348


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