#INF536 Critical Reflection

I have found this subject very challenging. Whilst comfortable working as an educator in both digital and physical environments my knowledge and understanding of how those spaces are constructed and the impact of design (good or bad) upon them was minimal. Sure, I could recognise when something didn’t work, possibly due to bad design, but I would have been hard-pressed to articulate why or even come up with an alternative. I hadn’t really considered how the design of space actually impacted on learning.

Through the activities, readings and tasks I have developed new capacities in observation, ideation, constructing and deconstructing knowledge, and new confidence in my own opinions. The task to make a small change to a learning space has inspired me to keep seeking and acting upon opportunities for other small changes. I had been content to wait till we move to our new spaces over the next 1-2 years but these are learning spaces now! If they can be improved now then they should be. The idea of library as Fab Lab (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013) or Makerspace is something I will be exploring further.

One of the most challenging readings was Hatchuel, Le Masson and Weil (2004). It literally made me cry as I started doubting my capacity to make sense of the written word. Strangely it was the anti-depressive toothbrush  that helped me turn the corner on this one and I was quite pleased I was able to reference C-K theory in my case report.

Being taken through a design thinking process observing, empathising and developing a design brief for my local station was a revelation to me and excellent preparation for the Google Teacher Academy I was fortunate enough to attend recently (facilitated by Ewan’s NoTosh colleagues Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry). From this experience I now add “It’s not right that…” as an excellent prompt when struggling with framing “How might we…?” questions.How might we?

I learned that a design brief is not a list of demands and now wish I could persuade the powers that be at my school that developing a document like Dear Architect (Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College, n.d.) for our major consolidation and rebuilding project could have enormous benefits for the school in the long term. Unfortunately it is too late for that. The architects have visited for “consultation” bringing with them their already drawn-up plans. At least I now have some solid research behind me when I start ranting to whoever will listen about what a disaster having the year 8 lockers in the middle of the library will be.

I have discovered the value of a war room and sticky notes. Last semester I prided myself on not printing anything; this semester not only have I printed, I’ve cut up, re-arranged, stuck back together and (cue drum roll) hand written.

Sticky notes

Scissors and sticky-tape

Attending Simon and Graham’s creative coffee morning revealed the value of semi-structured conversation between people of different backgrounds but common interests.

Participants at the TeachMeet Bec and I hijacked as a pseudo creative coffee morning appreciated the opportunity for focused discussion as an alternative to the usual presentations.

Once again the support of this network (the class) has been phenomenal – I can’t imagine what it’d be like without the forums, tweets and hangouts. Thanks everyone, it’s been one helluva ride!



Belbin, N., & Newcombe, P. (2013). Fab Labs at the Library. Education Digest78(7), 65-68.

Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College. (n.d.). Dear Architect: A Vision Of Our Future School: Walker Technology College.

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia. http://www.designsociety.org/download-publication/19760/c-k_theory_in_practice_lessons_from_industrial_applications



Blog task 1

Our library viewing area (as it is described for booking purposes) is a large, fairly open space where students mostly sit on the floor to use the set of iPads or for viewing the TV. It’s popular with teachers for the iPads because we have an Apple TV making for easy sharing of student work. I wrote about one corner of this space in Impact of space but I knew I wanted to look more at this area. As you can see, the corner wasn’t the only messy part of this space. (click on the image to rotate the panorama).

On the face of it the area is serving its purpose but I feel it could be better utilised. One thing I’ve noticed is that, even though we are always busy at lunchtime, this area does not get much use at that time (although the new 3D printer has generated lots of interest). Being a “dumping ground” was not limited to the one (now cleared) corner and even something as simple as cleaning out the superfluous stuff should have a positive impact. The central area which is not visible in the panorama is basically an empty carpeted space. There is a contrasting carpet square that is used to define the seating area for viewing the TV.

I’d like to make the area more attractive and inviting for students so they are tempted to spend time there of their own volition. It would be lovely to redecorate the area with some of the fabulous multipurpose furniture pieces I’ve seen. New carpet would make a huge difference too, as would a new colour scheme, writeable walls and more options for display.

Image from http://www.furnware.com.sg/akiako-scape


Image from http://www.furnware.com.sg/cookie-pad

However, my school is embarking on a major consolidation and building process. According to the plan we will be moving out sometime next year so that the building can be gutted and refitted. At that time we will move into a completely new space (that’s a whole other story). Thinking about what Brown (2009) describes as the work of a design thinker – the harmonious balance of desirability, feasibility and viability – it’s pretty clear that such ideas, while desirable and feasible are not viable.

Fundamental to the use of design in learning spaces is the consideration of the style of teaching and learning that will take place and the flexibility to provide for different styles in the same environment. Buchanan (1992) discusses “the role of design in sustaining, developing, and integrating human beings into broader ecological and cultural environments, shaping these environments when desirable and possible or adapting to them when necessary” (p. 10). So “using constraints as inspiration” (Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby 2012, p. 110) I’ve turned my attention to the activities that could occur to make the space more appealing rather than focusing just on the physical.

I have been thinking for a while that I’d like to use this space for students (and possibly teachers too) to present “how to” sessions about their interests, passions and hobbies. This idea was formed last semester when we looked at Creative Cultures in module 5 of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. I’m still working on how to get that started but in the meantime this task has given me the impetus to try something else first.

My plan is to provide a variety of new activities for students (a different one each day or week) in this space at lunchtimes. First up will be a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle that I will place on a table in the middle. I’ve no idea how quickly it might be completed but there won’t be any problem leaving it as a work in progress over a few days. The table usually lives against a wall but can be easily moved by two people allowing us to clear the space for classes at other times. I will look for other similar ideas (and thanks Patricia Lee for your inspiration already) – perhaps some craft activities or obsolete equipment that the children might like to take apart and tinker with.Jigsaw


Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness.

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

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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