Participation in “Designing Learning Spaces”, #INF536, has positively impacted on my work as a professional in a positive way by deepening my understanding about the relationship between ‘design’, ‘learning’ and ‘space’, both digital and physical.
My practices as an educator, more specifically as a principal, influence the development of digital and physical spaces. I have long engaged with ‘learning’ and learning theory; however, it very quickly became obvious I knew little about ‘design’ and ‘space’.
‘Design’ and design thinking is an iterative process which is ongoing and supports long term possibilities of discovering the ‘unknown’. As a part of design thinking, it is useful to stop and observe the space. The Observation of Space Task re-inforced the need to stop, observe and reflect about the use of space. We need to do this far more often in education so space can align with purpose of learning and support the needs of future users.
I appreciated being introduced to design processes such as the Alpha Schools design scaffold (Figure 1) or the Stanford Institute of Design’s design thinking framework (Figure 2). Both enlightened me to the extensive and sustained requirements of leading effective design processes for digital and physical learning spaces.
Furthermore, Ewan McIntosh’s Seven Spaces of Learning along with Rinquist’s Learning environments (Figure 3) affirmed the well-founded argument that the purpose of ‘space’, digital and physical, has to be known and understood for it to be effective in supporting student learning.
By engaging with, and immersing myself in, the literature, I am more knowledgeable about thinking and processes which will align the learning needs of future users with the purpose of a space. Designers have been moving increasingly closer to the future users of what they design (Sanders and Stappers 2008) and there is enthusiasm within both education and architecture for the inclusion of students and other users of the school building in the design process (Woolner 2009). I engaged students and parents when hosting my Creative Afternoon Tea .
It is interesting to note this course has already impacted on my practice. As part of my learning in this course, I reflected on the process of developing a physical space, “G1” some ten months previously. It was a process lacking in design thinking with no user-centred, creative approaches to the conversion of “G1”. Concerns about That Problem Space became very clear, very quickly and can be explained by the rushed nature of the process. However, it is pleasing to report that at the time of writing, a review of the “G1” space has resulted in a new process which has adopted user-centred prototyping approaches involving students, teachers and parents, which seek creative ways to re-imagine the space. I am confident the refurbishment of the space will be useful for student learning after a process which is characterised with design thinking principles.
“Thank you” Ewan for your input and “thank you” #INF536 colleagues. I have enjoyed learning that has come with this course.
Sanders, E. B.-N. and P. J. Stappers (2008). “Co-creation and the new landscapes of design.” Co-design 4(1): 5-18.
Woolner, P. (2009). Building Schools for the Future through a participatory design process: exploring the issues and investigating ways forward. BERA Manchester.