INF536 Critical Relection

            When I first read the course outline for INF536 – Designing Spaces for Learning, I wondered whether I signed up to learn not only about designing learning spaces, but also about a new lingo used by educators in Australia and Scotland (the location of the authors of the course outline), but I soon realized that my views, knowledge and understanding of the work of education professionals, no matter where they were teaching, were changing.  The person I would have historically called “Professor” or “Instructor” was now labeled “Subject Coordinator”.  The course syllabus “Your Subject Outline” and discussed “your studies”.  The Student or Learner learned together with the teacher, not just from the teacher.  In short, I sensed a shift in focus from a teacher-centered directed tour of a single discipline to a learner-centered guided journey investigating a multitude of disciplines.

            As class started, I wondered about the logic of studying design, as I saw design as a topic for the architects, artists, engineers, and other creative types of the world, but I soon realized the benefit of design thinking in other professional endeavors.  I could relate to the iterative process from my computer science days, and the benefits of doing and prototyping.  Then came our creative coffee morning, and enter Michael Manoogian, a successful designer who trained at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).  He admits that RISD never “taught” him a thing, but rather the professors knew how to bring out of you whatever creativity you had inside.

            Then came our section on experimental spaces – how experimental could you get with a classroom? Enter Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, creator of the Academy for Global Citizenship (“ACG”), and her holistic approach to learning, including designing green.  After reading about Sarah in McIntosh (2013), and watching Sarah’s Ted Talks, I remarked to a friend that he was way ahead of his time growing up — tinkering with bicycles and rockets, traveling the country and world, and learning tangentially in school.  (At the time, he was reprimanded for not following the rules.)   

            I’ve come to realize high quality learning is transformational — a metamorphosis occurs.  You leave a different person than when you arrived.  You sense the change.  First comes the disorienting feeling of the unfamiliar (you wonder what’s happening to you), followed by some sense making (you put a couple pieces of the puzzle together), and eventually some real magic happens (ideas start popping in your head, you get lost in thought, lose sense of time, and if you’re lucky, enter a state of flow). 

            I arrived in class with some known unknowns (I knew nothing about designing classroom spaces) and hoped to impart some knowledge from an expert in the field.  I soon found myself overwhelmed with unknown unknowns (the distance learning platform, design thinking, pedagogies, critical analysis, etc.), felt way over my head, and wondered how I could escape.  I struggled with identifying a learning space project in which I could identify some key contradictions.  I now leave believing the world is the new classroom (both virtual and physical), learning opportunities are everywhere, and if you are willing to embrace the unknown unknowns, the unfamiliar, the constraints (as frightening as that may be), then you are well positioned for some real learning.


McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks and bricks: How school buildings influence future practice and technology adoption, Educational Facility Planner, Volume 45, Issues 1 & 2. CEFPI. Retrieved from

Thomas, J. (2014).  Creative Coffee Morning.  Retrieved from 

Thomas, J. (2014).  ACG – Designing Green.  Retrieved from

LFA’s Redesigned Academic Spaces: Rants and Raves.

LFA recently completed a academic space initiative, a multi-phased project a multi-phase project that created a new Science Center, transformed existing academic spaces, and “revolutionized the way students access and use technology”.   Now that the project is complete, let’s take a look at feedback from various stakeholders to see what they think.

Pictures of the redesign are posted here:


Tech in the classroom:

Apple TV helpful to show presentations but not in all the classrooms;

integrates well with student iPads – but not all classrooms are equipped with Apple TV.


Not as many sitting options (soft seating areas too low);

Node chairs – feels more like 12 individuals than 1 whole group of 12

– one size doesn’t fit all

— Lots of body types (small female swimmers to large male football players)  (Thomas, 2014)


chrome/glass/node chairs/white walls – makes it look sterile, increasingly impersonal

-Lacks spirit and ambiance

+ more cohesive look, more uniform

Media Commons:

underutilized expensive PCs


more windows, lights, brighter


wider hallways, more space to hand out, collaborate


+ feels more secure, less interruptions

-More distractions, awkward


Media Commons: 

–          high tech future (as technology advances, so to will the way students learn)

–          need more than quiet spaces – need interactive spaces

–          it’s more than a computer lab – it’s a blended learning, collaborative space

Science Center:

Promote environmentally sustainable practices by planting native, drought resistant plants outside Science Center (Halverson, 2013).

Community partnership to plant indigenous plants


Hot spots on the wall when overhead projector is too far back

Idea paint smears; Fuze works better for less cost


Continue traditions of the school and be at the forefront of improving the teaching system . (Thomas, 2014)

Former headmaster John Wayne Richards wanted a learning environment “where classrooms may be free from the formal ranks of desks fastened to the floor and made more appealing with chairs and tables.”  (Time, 1930)

Pulls students into class.

Positive survey results from the students.  (Schwartz, 2013).


Time Magazine (1930).  Education:  Big Dick’s Plans, retrieved from,33009,882032,00.html

Shapiro, Y. (2013).  Caxy Rant:  The New LFA Look.  Retrieved from

Spectator Editorial (2013).  Apple TV is a useful classroom tool.  Retrieved from

Thomas, J. (2014).  Interview with CFO Andrew Kerr about the new academic spaces at LFA.   Lake Forest Academy, September 18, 2014.

Lake Forest Academy: Focus on Academy Fund (2014).   Be a Part of Something Big Campaign Update.  Retrieved from

Lake Forest Academy:  Academic Space Initiative.  (ca. 2012).  Retrieved from

LFA Faces Problems with Apple TV (2014).  Retrieved from

Chopra, R. (2013).  New Media Commons Brings Future of Learning to LFA:  Retrieved from

Corbin Construction Divides Students.  Retrieved from

Phillips, M.  (2014).  Mission accomplished:  renovation of Corbin and Korhumel cap Lake Forest Academy’s redesign.  Retrieved from

Halverson, A. (2013).  Plants Indigenous to Illinois placed outside of Science Center.  Retrieved from

Schwartz, P. (2013).  Why Mobile Technology.  Retrieved from

Blog Post 8.1 – community partnerships for makerspaces

What partnerships might be possible in your own community to create an “alternative” makerspace?

Local business could be the source of after-school internships and summer jobs, or sources of expertise in areas like technology, media, the arts.

What learnings might be had from observing existing spaces, talking with educators about the limits of those traditional models, and the potential of designing something that lies outside the schooling environment, in a common, shared, community space?

Students from within the school will be the future employees of local business outside the school.  Partnering in the local environment before students graduate will have a positive influence on employment rates and business success in the local community.

ACG – Designing Green

I visited the Academy of Global Citizenship (“ACG”) on Friday and witnessed a school using nature to create a more sustainable learning space.  Check out the pictures on Flickr to get a sense of a school situated in an industrial area in the city of Chicago:

What might be the role of nature in helping create a more sustainable learning space?

– growing vegetables in an organic garden

– equiping a playground that produces renewable energy

– growing food for the community

– using recycleable products and reducing waste

– recylcing water with the use of rain barrels

 How does designing “green” change the very nature of learning in our spaces?

Attending school which is self sustaining teaches students how to be self sufficient in their own lives.    ACG’s goal is to show that world that schools can be net energy positive and has plans to build the first net energy positive school.



The Seven Spaces at LFA

I thought I would take a look at various spaces at Lake Forest Academy (LFA), the school I’m focusing on for my final project.

1) Secret spaces include

individual study rooms and

isolated locatios around campus where kids can go to be alone. *

2) Group spaces:

My favorite physical group space is the formal gardens where the annual start of school all school handshake takes place. (usually the first picture that pops up on the website)

I would suggest that a digital group space is Twitter:

3)  Publishing spaces:



4) Performing spaces:

Volleyball court *

hockey rink *

5) Participation spaces:

science center garden,

robotics lab *

6) Watching spaces:

arts center,

tv monitors in academic hallways *

7) Data spaces:

historical sports rosters/stats on the school website?

student gmail accounts used for school?

* Posted on the Flickr INF536 group site are the following pictures:

* volleyball

* hockey

* robotics lab – participating space

* watching space – tv monitors in the hallways playing new channels

* secret space – soft chairs overlooking the parking lot on a fall day


Creative Coffee Morning


My in-person creative coffee morning (“CCM”) meeting ended in 5 minutes as friends rushed off to their kids weekend activities, so the assignment became an exercise in creative connections.  I relied on LinkedIn and made connections through keyword searches (e.g. “ design thinking”  ” designing learning spaces”) and group membership (e.g. Designing Thinking Group).

I posed this question to new connections:   How can schools create learning spaces to foster creativity and innovation, and allow for productive collaboration?


Kevin Tumlinson

First, it has to start with a fundamental shift in how students are taught. There needs to be an evolution toward discovery education, rather than content-oriented education. The best way to look at this is as a difference between pedagogy and andragogy.

Both are methods of educating people, but as their Greek routes indicate, pedagogy is the method of educating children and andragogy is the method of education adults. There are fundamental differences in how we approach each, but the gist is that when you’re teaching adults, you have to teach them the “why” of what they’re learning, or it won’t stick. If an adult takes an auto mechanics class, for example, you would have to teach them why it’s necessary to put oil in an engine, rather than just give them the facts (the content). Saying “oil goes in the engine” isn’t enough. You have to tell an adult why.

We don’t use that method with children, at present. We give students facts about what they’re studying, and then require them to memorize those facts and repeat them at a later date. There’s vastly more to our education system than this, obviously, but at its core, that’s what we’ve built. Our current public school system was created in response to the Industrial Age, when it was important to get people prepare for factory jobs. Knowing “why” something had to happen was less important than knowing how to do something in precise and repeatable order.

So to foster design thinking in the classroom, we have to start first with implementing an andragogy approach to teaching. We have to start encouraging students to ask “why,” and we have to start supplying them with the means and methods of figuring out the “why” for themselves.

Second step—we have to create a space where it’s not only ok for students to make mistakes and messes, it’s encouraged.
Setting up a learning space that fosters creativity and innovation is going to necessarily start with getting students to put their hands on things, to try something new and untested, and to have all the materials and tools on hand to do so. The perfect environment for this is going to be a large, open space that’s supplied with materials, tools, safety equipment, and knowledgable staff who can answer questions and encourage progress.

I’m a fan of “maker spaces” or “hacker spaces.” These are essentially workshops and labs, usually pulled together by people who like to tinker and build and learn. Back in the early days of microcomputers, these spaces were part of the home-brew computer movement. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates all came from this environment, where a bunch of people got together and contributed parts and materials, as well as knowledge and experience, so that everyone could collaborate and experiment together.

Colossal, huge, epic failures come out of these spaces. And those are IMPORTANT. In fact, it’s more important for students to fail at their experiments than to succeed, because that’s where they actually start learning things. The staff is there to encourage them by getting them to ask, “Why didn’t that work? Why did I get that result?”
These spaces also have to be highly collaborative. Students have to be given a chance to teach what THEY know to other students. The fastest way to learn something and cement it in your brain is to teach it to someone else. So encouraging students to teach others what they’re learning through their experiments and successes and failures is a force multiplier for growth. Innovation comes as students realize what they’ve built, why it worked or didn’t work, and how they can improve it.

This all applies to “softer” topics as well. Writing labs, in which students can write something collaboratively, sharing and shaping their work together, are highly effective for improving communication skills. Getting instant and immediate feedback as you write is a dream for almost every writer I know (myself included!). It’s like having a sharpening stone handy at all times, helping you hone a razor’s edge on your skills.

The short and sweet answer to how to build a learning space: Create an environment that provides lots of materials, give basic guidance, and let students make as many mistakes as possible.

Design Thinking really boils down to synthesizing ideas and concepts from the world around you. It starts with a “what if,” like “What if I could write on this piece of paper and the words would show up on my smartphone?”

The next step is rapid prototyping. The student would take that idea and build something that they can use to show what they mean by it. This is the rudimentary stuff, not the final product. So they could have a notepad and a pen with a photo of their work on the screen of a smartphone, and that would serve.

Then they move to research. What’s out there that does this sort of thing already? How does it work? Can that be boiled down into something simple and replicable?

Then they build a more advanced prototype, maybe even a working model.

And this may seem counter intuitive, but the best possible result is that they fail at what they’re trying. The goal should be to fail as often as possible, because every iteration is a new way to think about it, and something new to learn. They’ll pick up ideas and skills and knowledge that may or may not help them with THIS project, but could very well help them innovate on the next. “I tried this on my last project and it didn’t work. But it might help here.”

And that’s it. That’s how companies like IDEO churn out brilliant ideas and concepts for their clients. They collaborate, they dream, they prototype, they research, they build. Repeat.

Michael Manoogian—

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) never “taught” me a thing. The professors knew how to bring out of you whatever creativity you did have. They did a good job. You could always go to a “trade school” and learn that red and yellow make orange. Or you could experiment yourself and see what wonders you could create. That way you’ll learn that not only do red and yellow make orange but look at ALL the shades of orange they can also make. You apply that kind of thinking to any areas of design and you may just create the next “wheel.” And just by wondering out loud and exploring and experimenting. Sometimes it comes as a happy surprise when you hit it. But you also have to recognize IT when you do hit it. It’s the old story of the monkey that types out E=mc squared. It’s meaningless because he doesn’t recognize it as anything important.


1)  Create an environment that provides lots of materials, give basic guidance, and let students make as many mistakes as possible (e.g. Maker Spaces / Hacker Spaces / Writing Labs)

2)  Colossal, huge, epic failures are IMPORTANT

3)  The space should help bring out of you whatever creativity you have inside of you.



1)  Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit” from IDEO

2)  Creative Problem Solving MOOC on Coursera


1) Join the Creative Coffee Morning Group in Chicago and attend the October meeting (as the group isn’t meeting in September) .

2) Try another local meeting with teachers and librarians





Literature Review

A review of the following writings highlights divergent lines of thought about design thinking, and understanding the differences is key to understanding whether learning spaces are well designed for the students in today’s  ever-evolving learning environment.

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

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.

Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306.

Melles, G. (2010).  Curriculum Design Thinking:  A New Name for Old Ways of Thinking and Practice?  In Proceedings of the DTRS8 Conference (pp. 299-308).

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

Simon, H. A. (1973). The structure of ill-structured problems. Artificial Intelligence. 4, pp. 181–201.


Design Thinking is defined as an analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype modules, gather feedback and redesign.  (Razzouk, 2012).   Nobel prize winning scientist Herbert Simon describes design thinking as a linear, step by step process with seven stages: define, research, ideate, prototype, choose, implement, and learn.  (Simon, 1969).  The process has two distinct phases: problem definition and problem solution.  Problem definition is an analytic sequence in which the designer determines the elements of the problem and specifies the requirements of a successful design solution.  (Buchanan, 1992).  Problem solution is a synthetic sequence in which the requirements are combined and balanced against each other, yielding a final plan to be carried out.  (Buchanan, 1992).

Simon (1973) writes that problems are either well structured or ill structured. Ill structured problems (“ISP”) are defined as those problems that are not well structured problems (“WSP”), and the boundary between the two are “vague, fluid and not susceptible to formalization”.  Simon reasoned that his approach would work with not only the WSP but also the ISP, and saw no reason that yet uninvented and unknown concepts could hinder fuller exploration of those problem domains.

Not everyone agrees that design thinking can be reduced to a process or defined as a problem.  Buchanan (1992) viewed design more as a new area of study, a liberal art of technological culture.  Buchanan argues that no single definition of design adequately covers the diversity of ideas and methods gathered together under the label.  Rather, design problems are “wicked problems” where the problems are ill formulated, information is confusing, there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and the ramifications in the whole system are confusing. (Buchanan, 1992)  With wicked problems, although the designer brings a unique way of looking at problems and finding solutions (Kimbell, 2011), this version of design is less concerned with individual designers and how they design, and more concerned with defining design’s role in the world.

Buchanan believes that Simon doesn’t capture the radical sense in which designers explore the essence of what the artificial may be in human experience. In Simon’s world, the elements of the WSP or ISP are determinate, whereas Buchanan believes the elements of wicked problems are indeterminate.  Further, Simon’s methods are analytical, directed toward the discovery of solutions already known rather than the invention of solutions yet unknown.

Hatchel (2004) expands upon Buchanan’s notions, distinguishes between concepts and knowledge, and develops “C-K Theory” in an attempt to prove that creative thinking and innovation are not external phenomena to designing thinking, but rather are at the core of the theory.  C-K Theory offers a formal framework for a unified model of reasoning which avoids the two traditional design views of (1) reasoning within a stabilized set of functions and (2) interpreting creativity in design as an uncontrollable process.  For Hatcheul, “design is a reasoning activity that starts with a concept about a partially unknown object and attempts to expand it into other concepts and/or new knowledge.” (Razzouk, 2012).

Kimbell (2011) suggests design theory can be classified in 3 different approaches.  The first approach stems from Simon and focuses on design thinking as a cognitive style.  The second stems from Buchanan and focuses on design thinking as a general theory of design.  The third line began after year 2000 and looks at design thinking as an organization resource; however, Kimbell argues that design presented as a way to balance organizational tensions between exploration and exploitations (Martin, 2009) or as a loosely-structured organizational process that stimulates innovations (Brown, 2009) doesn’t have the same academic foundation as the two other approaches, as it doesn’t draw on research in either design studies or management studies.

While the nature of design thinking and what makes one person a design thinker and another not a design thinker remain elusive, some traits have been identified and can be helpful in understanding how a design thinker thinks and approaches issues.  Razzouk (2012) composed a list of 7 traits of a design thinker, which included (1) human and environment-centered concern, (2) ability to visualize, (3) predisposition toward multifunctionality, (4) systemic vision, and (5) affinity for teamwork.  (p. 336).  Razzouk also defines good designers as those who employ these traits to help clarify requirements – they search for information, summarize it, prioritize it, and remaining open to first solution ideas – and they are solution based rather than problem focused.

Razzouk argues that by teaching students to think like designers, we can help students deal with difficult situations and solve complex problems in school, in their careers, and in life. New skills like design thinking, multitasking and digital literacy could keep students engaged, whereas  current educational practices of focusing on increasing student proficiencies in traditional subjects tend to leave students disengaged (Gee, 2005).

Relating design thinking to education, Melles (2010) highlights the emergence of design thinking classes in higher education in North America.  Relating to Buchanan (1992) Melles acknowledges that design thinking has logic with potential applications to other fields, and shares common notions of experiential knowledge, abduction, and wicked problem solving. In describing the development of a design thinking unit in an Australian school, where such programs are lacking, Melles characterizes the curriculum development process itself as a kind of wicked problem.


Kelley declared in the foreword to Doorley’s Make Space that space does matter, as we read our physical environment like we read a human face.  When it comes to how to design the space, there’s a wide spectrum of views on what is considered good physical design of learning spaces, but a few key traits among well designed learning spaces seems to be that they start with a collaborative effort among stakeholders, they begin with a design brief, and the space reflects a holistic approach (as Mackintosh prescribed in the late 1800s) as it incorporates the culture, character, and mission of the institution using the space.

Berger (2003), an experienced teacher, consultant, and carpenter, outlines an approach to designing a learning space that starts with the notion that excellence is born from culture, and culture transcends community.  To immerse the community of users in an ethic of excellence perpetuates the culture of excellence, despite the fact that school cultures that support excellence can look different from one another and can be housed in different settings.

When designing space for an ethos of excellence, Berger (2003) recognizes that a lot of designers have ideas for improving schools, but no one seems to be talking to the builders, and if they do, it’s usually too late.  This is where a good design brief comes into play.  Walker Technology College’s design brief, Dear Architect, provides a strong example of a holistic and collaborative approach to designing new learning spaces.  The brief incorporates views from the students, faculty, administration, community and others; it outlines the schools mission and principles; and it profiles students in different grade level and their course work.

Recognizing that not everyone learns in the same way (Hattie, 2013), Berger suggests space should be designed with different learning styles in mind.  In the educational context, Doorley (2012) encourages us to experiment with our space, and design space with multiple situations in mind.  In the corporate context, space takes on a feel of its own and is “the body language of an organization”. (Doorley, 2012).

To the extent that government gets involved in the design process, it’s evident from reviewing various government standards for the physical design of learning spaces that there’s a wide variety of non-conforming standards, which raises the question whether a set of uniformed standards can be created given the unique nature of each learning space.  (Thomas, 2014)

In the context of the creative sector of the corporate world, Kelley (2005) recognizes the importance of the user of the space, as “the only real path to innovation is through people”, but incorporates an experience architect to design compelling experiences that go beyond mere functionality.   Catmull (2014) argues that the designers of the space itself should be those who are to be inspired by the space, namely the users of the space.

Schools fall short of the ideals of designing good learning spaces.  Fundamental features of an effective learning space, like acoustics, are being overlooked.  (Treasure, 2012).  There’s no consistency in the design review for the construction of new school buildings as there’s no centralized review service. (Kletnner, 2013).   The oversight organizations involved focus more on the cost-effectiveness of the building structures than the character of the structure.  ( UK Department of Education, 2012).

The standards in the United States have similar shortcomings.  While there’s a movement to link learning and school design (Copa, 2012)., the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (“NCEF”), a U.S. organization providing comprehensive information on designing, building, and maintaining high-performing schools, continues to struggle with funding to maintain a website of reference materials.

If the goal in designing learning spaces is to change practices, designing a space that plays down the “sage on the stage” is one way to do that.  (McIntosh, 2014).   After all, students arriving with misconceptions about phenomena will not alter their misconceptions as a result of direct instruction or simple listening.  (Hattie, 2013).  Further, learning requires effort and a high level of uncertainty (Hattie, 2013), and traditional classroom configurations and learning environments require students to neither exert much effort nor confront much uncertainty.

To the extent that space can be designed to help students think like designers, it’s unclear which skills the space should be designed for.  Gee (2005) suggests skills like multitasking and digital literacy, but Hattie (2013) found multitasking isn’t effective for learning as students who multitask tend to employ selective attention, or engage in multitasking to relieve boredom.  Regarding digital literacy, Hattie (2013) found the digital native theory is overstated.

To the extent that stakeholders can design their own learning spaces, Hattie (2013) discovered effect underpins what we value most, so taking part in the design of space should increase the value of the space to the ones designing it.  As a designer who has worked through much trial and error, Doorley discovered a number of insights in designing learning spaces, two of which resonated with me:  (1) Space can be used to nudge culture (but not to shove it), and as Berger experienced, designing space with a culture of excellence promotes learning.  (2) Creating a space collaboratively is the best way to create a collaborative space.  Of the dozens of other insights, perhaps Doorley’s most important insight is there’s no substitute for doing it yourself.


Two divergent approaches of design thinking have emerged. The traditional approach stemming from Simon views design thinking as a cognitive style, employs a linear, step by step process, focuses on the individual designer, and considers problems as either well designed or ill designed with determinate elements.  The later developed approach stemming from Buchanan focuses on design thinking as a general theory, has no special subject matter of its own, and views problems as wicked with indeterminate elements. Kimball proposes a third description of design thinking as an organizational resource, but it lacks academic foundation and is not as relevant in the educational learning space environment.

The second design thinking approach as modified by Buchanan appears better suited for the academic learning environment as it views problems as unique and provides for the possibility that problem elements are indeterminate. This process includes not only critical thinking skills, but also personality and dispositional traits such as creativity and persistence/resilience (Razzouk, 2012).  Experience shows that good design skills can assist in solving complex problems and adjusting to unexpected changes.

What has worked in practice are learning spaces designed from collaborative efforts, projects that are designed and created by stakeholders, adjustments to spaces made through trial and error, planning spaces using a holistic approach which considers an institution’s mission and principals, designing with an intuition’s culture in mind, and allowing for the exploration of the indeterminate factors, or as Rumsfeld would say, the unknown unknowns.

What has not worked in practice are government promulgated standards, expensive professional designers who ignore stakeholder input and install whiz-bang solutions, educators who complacently preserve the status quo, and the inability to create an oversight organization which reviews learning space design projects on a consistent basis.

What is left to do is formulate and articulate a common definition of design theory and design process as it relates to designing learning spaces, develop a curriculum towards the effective design of learning spaces, determine methods to assess the effectiveness of learning spaces, and share our knowledge with those making decisions in the process of creating new learning spaces.

In preparing students to succeed in the world, the designers of student learning spaces need to provide students with the opportunity to interact with content, think critically about it, and use it to create new information.   Further, we need to develop innovative assessments that aim at reliably measuring those skills. (Razzouk, 2012). Our ultimate goal is to teach learners to think for themselves, and if we can design spaces that promote learning and design assessments which measure the effectiveness of those spaces, then we’ve succeeded in our role as designers.



Berger, R. (2003), An ethic of excellence. Heinemann Educational Books. Introduction. Retrieved from

Bogle, R., A Framework for School Design Excellence.  Retrieved from

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

Catmull, E. (2014). Creativity, Inc. US: Random House

Copa, G. (2012), Linking Learning and School Design: Responding to Emerging Ideas, Retrieved from

Doorley, D., & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make Space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. John Wiley & Sons.

Education Funding Agency & Department for Education (UK) (2012, October 2). Innovative new school designs deliver efficiency for every pound spent. Retrieved from:

Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College.  Dear architect.  The vision of our future school.  Walker Technology College.

Gardner, H. (2004). Audiences for the theory of multiple intelligences. Teachers College Record, 106, 212-220.

Gee, J.P. (2005).  What would a state of the art instructional video game look like?  Retrieved from

Hattie, J & Yates G. C. R. (2013). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge.

Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The ten faces of innovation: IDEO’s strategies for defeating the devil’s advocate and driving creativity throughout your organisation. New York: Double Day.

Kletnner, J. (2013, May 2). Architects fear school design standards, Retrieved from:

Martin, R. (2009).  The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.  Cambridge MA:  Harvard Business Press.

McIntosh, E.  (2014).  Module 4.2:  Design strong spaces: design strong learning.  Retrieved from

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (2012), Standards for US Schools, Retrieved from

Rumsfeld, D. (2010).  Unknown Unknowns!  Retrieved from

Simon, H.  (1969). The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Thomas, J. (2014). A Look at Government Standards for Physical Design.

Treasure, J. (2012). Why architects need to use their ears, Retrieved from:

A Look at Government Standards for Physical Design

The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (“NCEF”) is a US organization that provides comprehensive information on designing, building, and maintaining safe, healthy, high-performing schools — from early childhood and K-12 to higher education.  Sadly, the NCEF ran out of funding and the site hasn’t been updated since 2012, but it still contains thousands of reference materials.

One section for reference material  discussed standards in US schools (with resources from 2012 and earlier (

 I stumbled across some reference material for Virginia posted in 2012 which included a score card new construction.  (

The scorecard had points for a school master plan but didn’t include  the words “learning” or “spaces” anywhere, so I concluded that there wasn’t much of a connection between the type of learning one might expect at Virginia schools and the specific spaces within the school.

I searched further and found a 2008 report from California which included a feature by Geoge Copa about linking learning and school design

Copa’s four priorities, central to emerging thought on best practices in teaching and learning, included engagement, personalization, connectivity, and authencity.  Considering the state of California is broke, I don’t see much designing happening there in the near future, and given that this resource is 6 years old, I couldn’t ascertain if there was a strong connection between the type of learning in California and the spaces being used.

Blog Task 3: Design Brief


Starbucks operates a dozen or more locations in the heart of downtown Chicago in a highly competitive and saturated coffee market.  Space is expensive and flow of customers varies greatly throughout the day.


The waiting area gets uncomfortably crowded at rush hour (several times in the morning and occasionally in the afternoon).


Starbucks’ mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.  Starbucks achieves it mission through a number of principals, two of which include its stores and its customers.

Regarding stores, “when customers feel this sense of belonging, our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends.  It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life – sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster.  Always full of humanity.”

Regarding customers, when employees are fully engaged, “we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments.  Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that.  It’s really about human connection.” (Starbucks, 2014).


a) This location has limited space, and there are only 2 entryways.

b) The number of customer per day is relatively predictable, and

the store knows there will be some busy times and some slow times throughout the day.

c) At peak times, there’s limited opportunity to connect with some customers.


d) The exact times of rush hour

e) Extent of customer dissatisfaction with long lines and crowded waiting area

f) Number of customer who go elsewhere when the line gets too long or the store gets too crowded


1) Round corners of long table to accommodate more sitters / standers  (Kimes, 2014).

2) Relocate men’s bathroom and 3 chair customer counter by drink pickup, install 6 set customer counter against back wall, incorporate women’s bathroom into back room

3) Install new machines to make espresso faster

4) Limit drink selection at this location

5) Open new store in nearby location to alleviate traffic

6) Hire more staff at peak times

7) Conduct time-motion study to optimize staff efficiency

8) Use QR codes to expedite customer ordering (Kimbell,L. 2012).

9) Increase music volume when wait is longer (Mandila, 2014).


View from cash register:

View from drink pick up counter:

View from entryway when there’s a line:

Existing Floor layout:

Possible Space reconfiguration:


Starbucks Mission Statement.  Retrieved August 10, 2014 from
Kimbell, L. Rethinking design thinking: Part II. Design and Culture, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

Mandila, M, and Gerogiannis, V.  The Effects of Music on Customer Behaviour and Satisfaction in the Reion of Larissa – The Cases of Two Coffee Bars, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

Kimes, S. and Robson, Stephani, The Impact of Restaurant Table Characteristics on Meal Duration and Spending, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

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