Assessment Blog #1

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Libraries offer services and facilities that belong to the community and within a school context, the library belongs to the learners.  In our school library (known as the iCentre), we believe all members of the College community can be defined as learners, including administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents. Providing a learning space that supports learning in our community is a key goal of the iCentre and one space we felt was no longer meeting this goal was the “non-fiction” area. This area contained rows of non-fiction shelves and an adjacent teaching and learning area consisting of tables, chairs, some fixed computer stations, a teacher lectern, projector and screen.  Observations of learner behaviour and borrowing data verified that many of the resources were not being used and learning in this area was mostly teacher-centred and assessment driven.  The space was not meeting the iCentre’s goal of providing library, information and digital literacy services and programs that support the College’s pedagogical framework for 21st Century teaching and learning.  The project to re-invent this space is underway and thinking on its design will be integral to developing a space that improves learning opportunities for our community.

When we undertake a project to design or re-design a learning space, it is imperative that our purpose is human-centred.  This idea is repeated often in the course readings to date.  Philippe Starke in his address on TEDtalks, Design and Destiny (2007), stresses that design is obliged to serve the community and this is reiterated by Kuratko, Goldsworthy, & Hornsby (2012) who assert the purpose of design is “to meet the needs of communities and make the world a better place”.  A project that uses a design process that keeps the end-user, in our case, the learner, at the heart of decisions will be better placed to work within the three intersecting constraints of feasibility, viability and desirability identified by Brown (2009, p.3).  Another perspective that is relevant to making our design decisions for learning spaces is to consider how each product serves the person it is intended for, “the over-arching truth lies in the fact that every physical product delivers a service; that every service is manifest through physical products” (Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph, 2013, p.3).  In this course we are challenged to “think like a designer”, to seek the possible rather than the not possible and by doing so our project will be innovative and better serve the community.  Tim Brown (2009). introduces a number of core capacities we require to begin thinking like a designer.  I have taken these and summarized them in the following tag cloud:

designer tag cloud2014-08-01 at 5.42.42 am copy

The story so far:

Our project to re-design our non-fiction space for improved learning is underway but far from complete.  The changes we have started with include:

Weeding the collection

In the recent past we have focused on developing our digital collection of information and believe we no longer need as large a collection of print material on the shelves.  Because digital collections are available from anywhere at any time, the learner at the heart of this decision has more opportunity to access information than they do when they are restricted to the opening hours and loan restrictions of a library.  We were also due to assess the collection and cull it of dated material as part of our regular practice and as such, the project was timely.

Clearing the space

We wanted more space for students to work, study, meet and collaborate.  Essentially, we wanted to make the space learner-centred rather than resource centred.  This would involve moving the books from rows of shelves to shelves placed along the walls.  Unable to afford new shelves immediately, we moved the existing shelves against the wall to clear the space for learners.  We have also placed a budget proposal to college leadership to acquire new, purpose built shelves that can be positioned along the walls but are also on castors and have flexibility for future changes.  This change has already had an impact on learning.  It is well used by students outside of class times to do school work or meet formally and informally in groups.  The large boardroom table, in the centre of the space is a temporary edition while another building in the school is being renovated, and has been an interesting artefact to observe.  We were initially reluctant to house this in the iCentre but it has proved most popular for meetings of staff and students.  Senior students also like to use the table to study in groups or work on assignments.  It has become so popular, that we have had to add it to our online booking form.  We also removed most of the fixed computers in the space as students now have their own device there is less demand or need for these.  The couple we have kept are needed for quick access if a student has forgotten their device or the battery has died and it is being re-charged or for occasional printing.  Classes also use the space differently now.  We have observed more collaboration as teachers encourage students to spread out.  Overall, we believe the space better meets the needs of the 21st century learner because it is more flexible, student-centred and collaborative.

Before:

non-fiction shelves 25 June 2008 010 (Large)

After:

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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

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf

Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph (2013). Design thinking research : Building innovation eco-systems. Available in CSU Library. http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1398639

Starke, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design

 

7 Comments on Assessment Blog #1

  1. moniquemcqueen
    August 1, 2014 at 11:52 am (5 years ago)

    Helen,
    I read your Blog post with interest as I initiated a very similar change to our non-fiction area at the end of last year; a major culling our non-fiction, shifting the existing shelves around the walls and buying new round tables with chairs to be placed in the centre. It has become our Seniors seating area. The non-fiction areas are being used less, but I beleived that what we had left was high value and match theresearch needs of the students.
    Our reasons where similar in that we saw the need for more collaborative learning spaces. I think as teacher-librarians we are often the change agents; altering the learning spaces like this a valuable way of trying to encourage innovation and make change happen (Kimbell, 2011).It is a cognitive style and a resource our schools should take on board.
    Reference
    Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306. http://www.lucykimbell.com/stuff/DesignPractices_Kimbell_DC_final_public.pdf

    Reply
  2. deborah.welsh
    August 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi Helen

    When I initially considered the problem spaces in our library I didn’t know where to start! The design and implementation you have worked through in this process reflects the reality of the demand for more collaborative learning spaces. The fact that your shelves could be re-used in a different place and still achieve the desired result shows how effective small changes can be. (not that those who actually moved the shelves would consider it to be a small change!) Razzouk & Shute (2012) reflect on the consequences of change “Not only do unexpected discoveries become the driving force for the invention of issues or requirements, but also the occurrence of invention tends to cause new unexpected discoveries.” I’m sure that’s what you have discovered – the act of changing the space has reinvigorated the users in that space.

    Reply
  3. graham.clark.australia
    August 3, 2014 at 2:47 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Helen

    I really like what you’ve done to your school library’s non-fiction space. The new layout is so much better than the old one. By moving the bookshelves to the periphery rather than having them centre stage you’ve completely changed the look and the feel of this area.

    I think your previous layout looked rather dated and what I would term ‘old-skool’. Now it looks much more open and inviting. The large boardroom table makes for a great centrepiece and encourages students to come together in small groups. Although I do think the table looks a bit barren without something on it. Perhaps when its not being used you could have something eye-catching on the table. I’m not really sure what that would be but I think the table needs something which will draw students in and encourage them to come over and investigate.

    Having bookshelves on castors is a great idea as it will give you more flexibility and make this space so much more versatile. It will give you the option of mixing it up now and then so that the students don’t get bored with the layout. All in all, a job well done.

    Regards, Graham.

    Reply
  4. michele.walters@syd.catholic.edu.au
    August 3, 2014 at 5:07 am (5 years ago)

    I love the look of the large table Helen. It really lends itself to group collaboration – a space where ideas can be exchanged with a big enough surface to lay out large sheets of paper for drawing diagrams etc.
    Being able to work visually, explain ideas and processes and document alternatives are characteristics of design thinkers (Razzouk and Sgute, 2012) and could all happen in this space. Is there somewhere in the space that the ‘works in progress’ could be displayed for pondering by those involved and for comments/suggestions from other interested parties? It would seem a shame to have top pack up ideas until next time.

    Razzouk, R., Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. http://rer.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/82/3/330

    Reply
  5. michele.walters@syd.catholic.edu.au
    August 3, 2014 at 5:08 am (5 years ago)

    I love the look of the large table Helen. It really lends itself to group collaboration – a space where ideas can be exchanged with a big enough surface to lay out large sheets of paper for drawing diagrams etc.
    Being able to work visually, explain ideas and processes and document alternatives are characteristics of design thinkers (Razzouk and Shute, 2012) and could all happen in this space. Is there somewhere in the space that the ‘works in progress’ could be displayed for pondering by those involved and for comments/suggestions from other interested parties? It would seem a shame to have top pack up ideas until next time.

    Razzouk, R., Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. http://rer.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/82/3/330

    Reply
  6. sara.rapp
    August 3, 2014 at 8:43 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Helen,

    The nonfiction section of our library looks much like your “before” picture–rows of high shelves packed with books. I’m inspired by your idea to move the existing shelves to the walls. I’m not sure I would have the wall space, but with a bit of weeding, maybe I could make small seating alcoves like you show in the final image. I thought I was just stuck with the existing design (which was only done 5 or so years ago, so I have little hope of getting funding for shelves on mobile castors–so sad they didn’t think of this then). Now I feel that maybe I can do something with this area to make it better. Thanks for providing the inspiration!

    Cheers
    Sara

    Reply
  7. Ewan McIntosh
    August 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm (5 years ago)

    This is just fabulous – simple (thought I can feel the sore muscles after moving it all around!), and it reminds me of the kind of social spaces one sees in airport lounges, in the business/working bit. It’s formal, but not too much so. I wonder if that formal/informal balance is what helps teachers who have been used to teacher-centric use, to still feel comfortable bringing students there, but also comfortable to let go a little.

    Nice one – I’m so glad to hear of its impact!

    Reply

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