Doorley & Witthoft (2012 p.30) impress upon us that space is something that can create an impact on the way we learn, work and play immediately. So, starting with what you have, make a change. In your learning environment, is there an empty space? Find one, take it and transform it, quickly. You might consider making a pop-up learning space from scratch for a short period of time, or adapting an existing space in a small way with the goal of making a difference to learning. Share your ideas or inspiration in the Forum. What did you change or transform quickly in your learning environment?
As mentioned in my Introduction post, I am not at liberty to transform any empty spaces in my learning environment currently, but I have a prime example of a way that I used design thinking to transform an underused Children’s Space at a public library into a Family Space (that will hopefully see more traffic in future months)!
In class last semester I worked with a small group of students on the creating, marketing and assessing of a library space redesign that was conceptually simple (as the library has a limited budget) but meant to be beneficial to early children’s literacy in a specific Upstate NY community. Our pared down plan was to move the existing Teen Space (which was right in the center of the Children’s Space for some reason) upstairs to their own quadrant of the “adult” section of the library. Then we would combine the early children’s literacy materials, as well as the parenting materials and move them into the (now empty) space where the Teen’s Room used to be.
During our research for the space redesign (or space reshuffle, if I’m being more accurate) we found that the creation of boundaries, or “smaller spaces within a larger space” (Feinberg et al., 2004, p. 99) was an important design consideration. Boundaries are important as they allow for both active and quiet spaces. These smaller spaces within a larger space can be created through such things as bookshelf and furniture arrangement, etc. Our research also led us to the notion that creating a space in the children’s area that encourages social interaction between children and families is also important. (Bayliss, 2013; Feinberg et al., 2004, p. 100; Nichols, 2011).
Some key (albeit small) ways we sought to engage with the concepts of boundaries and encouraging social interaction between children and caregivers in library spaces included ensuring that there was appropriately-sized seating for both caregivers and children in the Family Space area. We also combined the materials in the existing Children’s Space with the materials in the existing Parenting area (decidedly less material here) and had the furniture rearranged in a way that was conducive to caregiver and child social interactions.