Assignments done – it’s a great feeling. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0O003kufA&feature=youtu.be
Brown, T. (2009, July). Designers — think big! Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big
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 http://www.ted.com/talks/alastair_parvin_architecture_for_the_people_by_the_people
Stower, H. (2014). IPractice: Learning and Connecting. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/ipractice/
Australian Library and Information Association via Twitter
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.
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.
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 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.
“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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti_i-M3pk5M&feature=youtu.be
Third Grade Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
Cafe. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
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:
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.
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
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!
Female diver plunging into bottom of pool. [Photographer]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.