Archive of ‘Design Thinking’ category

Case Study: iCentre digital spaces: what path should we take now?

Designing iCentre digital spaces for school library service delivery: what path should we take now?

The goal of this study is to evaluate both our current digital spaces and potential design changes in order to maintain dynamic and appropriate school library web services.


The library team at an all-girls secondary college in Brisbane, Queensland have begun a new phase in strategic directions. In 2016, new contexts have demanded a change in thinking about learning, life and work in the modern world.  The world now is change-filled and necessitates an approach that understands “everything we produce remains a work in process, in perpetual beta” (Richardson, 2016, para.5). This has implications for the services offered by the iCentre.  Evaluating and re-visioning the iCentre digital spaces is an important step in this process. A new vision and mission statement have been developed and the team has identified that the purpose of a revisioned digital space for the iCentre is to allow the college community to experience and learn the literacies of a connected world.  Due to timeframes and practical implications, this case study will only investigate the Library Management System and the iCentre Website.  Despite being essential to the provision of literacy development by the iCentre, social Media services will not be investigated at this time.

Expected Outcome of the project:
This case study will detail and analyse two of the existing virtual spaces, the Library Management System (LMS) and the iCentre Website with a view to understanding the contextual school library needs of the community and make recommendations to the iCentre team for their ongoing strategic plans.  The case study aims to adopt an evidence-based approach with an information science focus, incorporating user feedback, best research evidence and the professional experience and expertise of the iCentre team and external partners (Booth, 2002, p.53).

Two key research questions will guide this case study:

RQ.1   Do the current iCentre digital spaces meet our communities needs for school library services?

RQ. 2 What are the key considerations for the future of iCentre digital services and spaces identified from research evidence, user feedback and professional experience and expertise?

Case study plan:
The major steps required to complete the case study project include:

Digital School Library Services Research

*   Research the literature on best practice in digital school library services

*   Research the context of the iCentre school library services

*   Research the literature on emerging trends in school library services

Library Management System Research

*   Identify the needs for an LMS

*   Identify the contextual positives & negatives of the current LMS

*   Research and evaluate alternative LMS providers


*   Identify the needs for an iCentre Website

*   Identify the contextual positives & negatives of the current iCentre Website

*   Research and evaluate design changes for the iCentre Website

The resources required:

*   Research for literature review

*   Meeting time with iCentre team

*   Contact details for LMS system providers and schools using those systems

*   Meeting with Website developers

*   Release time to visit school and investigate a variety of LMS

*   Survey artefacts

*   Focus Group interviews

*   PMI feedback on LMS choices for iCentre team

A projected timeline (Due October 10)

July 11 –  August 31

Focus Group – iCentre team complete a PMI of current LMS

Focus Group – iCentre team brainstorm needs of the iCentre website

Survey – students needs of the iCentre website (10% of student population – equal horizontal representation of students from year 7 – 12)

Survey – staff needs of iCentre website

Visit schools to view a range of LMSs

Meeting with website developers

Meetings with LMS providers for professional demonstration of products

LMS PMI artifact completed by iCentre staff

September 1 – 30

Literature review –  best practice in digital school library services

Literature review – emerging trends in school library services

Focus group with students finding information in different web environments – observational data and interview

Drafting case study report including recommendations for potential design changes in order to maintain dynamic and appropriate school library web services.

Seek feedback on processes and findings on INF537 Forums & via blog posts

October 1 – 10

Finalise case study report for submission


Learning in the Digital Age = Participation


One of the key themes that have been impressed upon students engaged in the Master of Education Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course (MedKNDI) is that learning in the digital age involves understanding and participating in digital cultures.

Throughout these studies, I have also been introduced to some expert educators and researchers discussing the idea of participatory digital cultures.  Some researchers that appear regularly in my reference lists include Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito, Danah Boyd, John Seely Brown, Doug Johnson, Howard Rheingold, Christine Greenhow, Mike Ribble, Helen Haste, Will Richardson, Selen Turkay and James Paul Gee.

The challenge these thought provokers pose to those of us teaching in schools is:

How can we embed opportunities for participation into our programmes, curriculums, pedagogies, and spaces so that our students may “develop the cultural competencies and social skills” for full involvement in society (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison & Weigel, 2006, p.4)?  The key it is suggested, is to consider how students can learn, participate, create and produce within and beyond the classroom.

As we complete the course and engage in the colloquiums on offer, it is my goal to consider my professional practice as a teacher-librarian and my responsibility to prepare students to participate and thrive in the constantly evolving landscape of the digital age.

A useful guide for this reflective investigation is the 2016 standards for students recently produced by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  I have used this publication to develop goals for enhancing my professional practice during and beyond the studies undertaken in INF537: Digital Futures Colloquium.

Learning goals for digital futures


Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robison, A., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st Century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation, Chicago. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). THE 2016 ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

Critical Reflection

Assignments done – it’s a great feeling.  I thought I’d share what I’ve learned

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.18.47 pm

As a Teacher-Librarian, the design of physical and virtual learning spaces and the impact of these on learners and learning has been a key focus of my practice. In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote:

“The three areas I am interested in are the design of school libraries for learning, classroom design for learning and digital learning spaces.”

This highlights that when I began the subject, I thought I was going to learn about spaces.  What I learned instead was that design is all about the user and design thinking has the potential to solve problems, connect people and change learning.  Throughout the modules of this course, I have found the concepts of design thinking unfamiliar and challenging and this is reflected in my blog posts throughout the semester.   For the purposes of this reflection, I would like to address how this course has challenged my understanding of design and its place in education, informed my professional practice and led to professional growth.

Challenged my understanding of design and its place in education

The literature critique for assessment item 4 was perhaps the most challenge task I have undertaken in my academic life.  If I had any naive beliefs that design was about architecture, products or soft furnishings (which I did), this research set me straight.  The feedback on my essay was that I difficulty articulating my point – very true – I struggled the whole way through.  However, I emerged from that assignment with a new understanding that by involving students in design and developing their capacity for design thinking, possibilities emerge for changing learning, solving problems and building creativity.

Informed my professional practice

The course work for Designing Spaces for Learning has also informed my professional practice.  A project I have dedicated much time to, is the change of virtual learning space investigated for the case report in this subject.  The opportunity to step back and think critically about the motivations, processes and external pressures on our team throughout the project to date has provided valuable insight into both our successes and missed opportunities.  The recommendations will be passed on to the team and broader partners for consideration and discussion about how we might better lead and manage future developments in this project.  Another example of how this subject is informing my professional practice is that it has encouraged me to investigate the possibility of a local creative coffee meet-up.  Like many of the tasks in this course, I found organising the coffee morning for blog task 4, required a step outside of my comfort zone and I approached it with a “just do what you have to” attitude.  However, since completing the task, I have thought about the possibilities of this activity many times and during the recent school holidays organised coffee with some colleagues to discuss future possibilities for this type of get together.

Led to professional growth

Professional growth has certainly been an outcome of completing Designing Spaces for Learning.  The environments we were encouraged to participate in, the resources and readings provided and the assessment items all extended my knowledge and have began to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian.  In particular, the reflective blogging has been a fruitful process for me.  An activity that has stayed with me was blog task 2 which required us to observe and draw part of our daily routine. At the time I found this extremely challenging as it was far removed from previous academic tasks I have been asked to undertake.  Needless to say, it forced me to look at a situation in a completely new and creative way and the result was that a very stressful part of my daily routine has been resolved.  In other words, design thinking has solved a problem in my day and made one small part of my world a better place.  This learning is mirrored in the literature read for this course and evidenced in a blog post I wrote entitled ‘Does design matter’.  In this post, I quoted Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby who state that design aims “to meet the needs of communities and make the world a better place” (2012).  Thus, the proclamations by designers such as Brown, Bennett, and Parvin became real possibilities.

As the subject draws to a close, the challenges and opportunities afforded have been many and have already started to impact my working life. In particular, I believe these understandings need to be translated to practice so that design thinking will change both the spaces and people we work with.  I have not only had the privilege to read about design thinking but have also experienced the possibilities of learning through design and look forward to extending this to students so they are better equipped to solve problems creatively in a future that will require it.


Bennett, P. (2007, May 16). Design is in the details. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Brown, T. (2009, July). Designers — think big! Retrieved October 13, 2014, from

Kuratko, D. F., Goldsby, M. G., & Hornsby, J. S. (2012). The design thinking process. In Innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking (pp. 103-123). Boston: Pearson.

Parvin, A. (2013, February). Architecture for the people by the people. Retrieved October 07, 2014, from

Stower, H. (2014). IPractice: Learning and Connecting. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from

Image Attribution

Australian Library and Information Association via Twitter

Assessment Blog #3


Design Brief

The Problem: A morning robbed of joy

Located in suburban Brisbane, the Stower house is an average, middle class dwelling housing a family of four. Although the busy family are well organised and the morning begins with energy and enthusiasm, things seem to go wrong during the forty-five minutes from 6:45 to 7:30 am.  With Dad already departed for work, it is in this time that panic ensues, as unplanned extras are added to the morning routine and Mum becomes flustered trying to fit these into the tight schedule.  Consequently Mum often arrives at work late and exhausted.  Basically, the opportunity to spend time together in the morning is robbed of joy and becomes a stress filled experience.  Mum and kids would be better placed to start their day if the mornings were instead a time to congregate, eat breakfast, talk and enjoy each other’s company before facing the world.

Design Brief:

Dear Architect, Please design a solution to our morning activities that takes the stress out.  It needs to be a place that provides breakfast, but it should also be better than that. Why can’t it be a coffee house that ‘talks about the news’, is invigorating, engaging, stimulating, family-orientated.  Why does Mum have to solve all the problems? It needs to be a diplomatic process that the whole family is involved in.

The Challenge:  

Provide strategies to help Mum and the kids manage the unplanned extras in the morning in order to create a positive start to the day. This should include designing a space that provides breakfast and fosters joy, fellowship and diplomacy.

The Constraints:

  • The time cannot be expanded as it would infringe upon exercise and other household chores at one end of the morning and the start of the work/school day at the other end;

  • The activities can only happen within the home;

  • The space must be used for other family activities.


  • There are three people involved in these mornings;

  • It is a family relationship which cannot be compromised; and

  • One of the children is very anxious and unplanned extras cause a lot of stress for her.

Next Steps (Ideation):

Identify objects or conditions in the environment which may be recognised as concepts to be included or excluded to create something new (Hatchel & Weil), by undertaking the following processes:

  • Review Mum’s observations of the morning routine;

  • Interview the children to better understand their needs, their perception of the morning experience, and their desires for the morning routine;

  • Mum to brainstorm what the “perfect morning” might look like, feel like, sound like, taste like & smell like.  The purpose of this is to broaden the possibilities for a desirable outcome;

  • Research how other individuals and families manage their mornings;

  • Research how spaces can alleviate stress and foster talk and companionship;

  • Seek input from others about how a space might foster joy and fellowship in order to garner new perspectives and ideas; and

  • Develop ideas based on feedback and hold discussions between Mum and the kids to get their feedback on concepts and where possible, prototype/trial these ideas.


Dear architect,

“I chose to enhance this experience with a simple design element” (John Hockenberry), please help me.  Kind regards, Helen/Mum


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.

Hockenberry, J. (2012, June 12). John Hockenberry: We are all designers. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from

Third Grade Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Cafe. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Assessment Blog #1


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.


non-fiction shelves 25 June 2008 010 (Large)







Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from:

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. Available in CSU Library.

Starke, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from


Does design matter?

Leonardo da Vinci / Design drawing

I followed Lisa Fridman’s example from Rethinking material…* Quotes from Tim Brown’s Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation (July 27, 2012) and curated a list of ideas and/or quotes from the reading and viewing in response to the questions posed in module 1.2:

Why does design matter?

  • to meet the needs of communities and make the world a better place (Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. 2012).
  • “Citizen-centred services are vital to provide quality answers to the complex challenges of the 21st century, and can help achieve the value for money that centralised targets and expensive machinery of government reorganisations alone, have failed to deliver. Design uses a user-centred approach which has proven effective in delivering quality improvements and savings in the public sector. A simple creative solution can have a big impact: for example, incidences of violent crime were reduced by 80% at a hospital A&E [Accident and Emergency] department after a design project simply made changes to the signage and layout.” (Temple, 2010, p.16)
  • Above all, think of life as a prototype. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, and change our perspectives. We can look for opportunities to turn processes into projects that have tangible outcomes. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create whether they take the form of a fleeting experience or an heirloom that will last for generations. We can learn that reward comes in creation and re-creation, no just in the consumption of the world around us. Active participation in the process of creation is our right and our privilege. We can learn to measure the success of our ideas not by our bank accounts by their impact on the world.  (Brown as cited in Fridman, 2010).

What are the core reasons for which we need a design process?

  • because our spaces are obliged to serve the community (Philippe Starke)
  • in order to work within the 3 intersecting constraints of feasibility, viability and desirability (Brown, 2009, p.3)

 What might be the role of design when we think about learning spaces?

  • the role of design when we think about learning spaces may be to understand the user experience so that we can redesign signs, things, actions and thoughts in learning environments to give context or orientation to student thinking and to enable new ideas, perceptions or possibilities to be generated(Buchanan, p. 12)
  • Our objective, when it comes to the application of design thinking in schools, must be to develop an educational experience that does not eradicate children’s natural inclination to experiment and create but rather encourages and amplifies it. As a society our future capacity for innovation depends on having more people literate in the holistic principles of design thinking, just as our technological prowess depends on having high levels of literacy in math and science. (Brown as cited in Fridman, 2010).



Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from:

Fridman, E. (2010). Design thinking. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from

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

Starke, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

Temple, M. (2010). The Design Council: A review. Department for Business, Industry and Skills (UK). Retrieved from:

Image Attribution

Leonardo da Vinci / Design drawing. [Fine Art]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.


A quick transformation

My quick transformation

Module 1.1 transformed space2014-07-28 at 7.57.42 pm

The iCentre at Mt Alvernia is a very popular space among students and is extremely busy, particularly outside class times.  However, there is one small space that is rarely used.  It was set up as a casual lounging or reading area for students to relax, use their mobile devices, read, or meet in groups.  Despite other similar spaces being very popular for these reasons, students did not use this space.  I decided that I would use this area as my experimental space for Module 1.1.

My first transformation was to remove the coffee table and add a working table.  I did this during a morning tea break and in the very next period, a student used it to work at during her study lesson.  During the lunchtime that followed, two students used the table to work together on a homework task.

This was a very simple but interesting experiment and I think it is an example of engaging in design thinking described by Tim Brown who advocates  “observing what people actually do, [and] noting what people don’t do” (2009, p. 3)


Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.

Taking the Plunge into Design Thinking

Model Released:  Female diver plunging into bottom of pool

Having reached the end of Week 2 of INF536, I feel rather “at sea” in this subject and as such am using the metaphor of “taking the plunge” as the title for my first reflection.  I feel that I simply must get started despite my apprehension.

I have found it very difficult to put any thoughts on paper for this subject.  I feel quite out of my depth with the subject matter, intimidated even, and very nervous to pen anything on the topic. The readings have confused, rather than clarified, my thinking so far as I keep reading … there are no straightforward answers, there are guidelines but no guidelines, it is important to have ideas but keep your mind completely open,  …..

So, needing to start somewhere, I am focusing on the quote from Module 1.2 that design thinking may be described as “an analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype models, gather feedback, and redesign” (Ruzzouk & Shute 2012).

The three areas I am interested in are the design of school libraries for learning, classroom design for learning and digital learning spaces.  As a starting point, I am curating some design ideas, examples and models on Pinterest boards and hope this generates momentum if not some confidence!

Pinterest boards for Design2014-07-27 at 9.48.27 pm

Image Attribution

Female diver plunging into bottom of pool. [Photographer]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.