INF536 Blog Task #1

6

Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536, required blog tasks | Posted on July 30, 2014

Background:

To say that I’ve struggled with this task, wouldn’t be a lie. I’ve found it hard to define a space that isn’t serving a purpose for learning in my library as I’ve been tweaking it regularly over the past 3 years that I’ve been at SEHS. My classroom, is currently in flux due to lack of duty-of-care supervision in the library, so constant movement of my class hasn’t allowed me to settle into a space that my class could call their own with me, and I’ve just asked for my classroom space to be shifted as things weren’t working for me in the classroom that I was assigned for the class. The space that I’m moving to still won’t be our own, as we will be sharing the Home Ec theory room in the one of the library class spaces (major building works meant Textiles & Home Ec theory are based in my 2 library enclosed classroom spaces for 2014). However, having relocated the class on a permanent basis to a library room means that I will be able to use the main library space as a break out space from the classroom easily.

Having spent 2 lessons a week in the library with my class has lead me to consider the class area of the library for a small change.

Task

(a) Problem space that is not serving the purpose it could for learning.

Basic layout of library (map is not to scale but shows the main locations – used in library orientation for the new Yr 8s)

resource centre map

The Class area Semester 1, 2014 – rough sketch

lib class book area 1

3 rows of 3 tables; each table has 4 chairs – 2 either side of each table. Student main walkway in red; possible power cable for projector in blue

Semester 1 layout

Semester 1 layout

Before this, the class area was a random arrangement of 7-9 tables (4 person tables).

original layout

original layout

The principal had a presentation or meeting with parents (I can’t remember exactly as it was very early in the year)  in the library and the feedback given was that that arrangement looked cluttered, which I will admit it did having now changed it to 3 rows of 3 tables.

The problem that this layout (3 rows) for the class area did have was that students were potentially easily distracted by students coming into the library going to either print (near TL office) or the main desk, particularly if the teacher was in the traditional front of class space.

The portable whiteboard is not often out but I needed it for showing a youtube clip and writing notes up  for the class and this also raised a valid problem for me, as I realised that I needed to tape down the power cords (of a reasonable length too) as they went through the main thoroughfare when heading to the circulation desk. If I was to be regularly using this space and a projector, this would be a significant hazard and would mean that I would constantly be needing to tape down cords and pull up the tape when packing up the projector.

 (b) Benefits from design thinking regarding this space

The space could benefit from some design thinking in regard to reducing the hazard of the cords and distraction possibilities. The process undertaken in this design process was suggested by Dorner in Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012, p335) following the cloudy idea of how the design should look like and work, crystallizing into a clear and complete image of the design. Prototyping of the solution is currently in progress, as the final layout still may change.  The problem that was considered here would be classed as a Well-Structured-Problem by Simon (1973).

Challenges in space design over time, have meant that consideration for portable projectors (and even move-able TVs, VCR & DVD players) would not have occurred when building the library and there seem to have been less concern for tripping over cords and the like at that time. Moving to 21st century learning & teaching styles has meant that being able to move furniture around to allow a variety of learning experiences within learning spaces needs to be a viable option. 

(c) Changes made

Having considered the main hazard of the cords needing to be taped down a fair distance, I decided to try flipping the space 90 degrees. This would allow a shorter cord taping to be required and the cord would not be where a lot of students were walking so less hazard concern there.

Class Area Semester 2, rough sketch

lib class book area 2

3 rows of 3 tables; each table has 4 chairs – 2 either side of each table. Student main walkway in red; possible power cable for projector in dark blue and light blue. Preference is for the light blue option if possible.

start of Semester 2 layout

start of Semester 2 layout

The change of layout has changed how students interact in the space at lunchtime, which I expected a little because they couldn’t just walk in and sit down; they have to move around the tables particularly to sit in the middle of the table rows like they used to. However, I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the new layout which I have when I’ve shifted the layout of couches and ottomans in the fiction area during the year. I probably have fewer people sitting at the tables during lunch but I’m not sure that during their break times a lot of the time that these tables were used for learning/working, they are more used as a social chatting space or uno playing or chess match spaces (which we offer at lunchtimes). I was intending to try out the new layout with my class, this Monday (changed the space late Friday afternoon) but another teacher booked the space before I did (she needed the laptops & I didn’t so I wasn’t worried). I did consider leaving an aisle in the middle of the rows, so having 2 tables together a gap and then the final table in the row, to allow flow through to the non-fiction area and interactions at lunch time. I still need to get feedback on how teachers & students like the current arrangement, or if they’d prefer an aisle and then which option. The long table rows seem to be working better than the single tables that we used to have here, better interactions and on task behaviours (and less chair left out hazards afterwards) are occuring in the learning space time.

Aisle options

Class area option 1 with aisle space closest to fiction area

Class area option 1 with aisle space closest to fiction area

Class area option 2 with aisle space closest to photocopier

Class area option 2 with aisle space closest to photocopier

 

Class area option 1 with aisle space closest to fiction area with tables flipped 90 degrees

Class area option 3 with aisle space closest to fiction area with tables flipped 90 degrees

 

Added: Initial feedback from teachers is that they like this space arrangement better than the Semester 1 layout – less distraction from the doorways for some students.

(d) Comments on others blog pages

 

Katie’s Learning Journey http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/polis/2014/07/30/blog-task-1/#comment-2

Lisa’s thoughts  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lisa/2014/07/30/blog-task-1/ 

 

Digitalli (Margaret Simkin)  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/07/30/using-a-design-process-to-effect-a-change/#comment-43

References:

 

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348.http://rer.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/82/4/483.full.pdf+html
Simon, H. A. (1973). The structure of ill-structured problems. Artificial Intelligence. 4, pp. 181–201. Retrieved from: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~cschan/235/6_Simon_Ill_defined_problem.pdf

 

 

 

Comments (6)

Hi Liz, your new space arrangement seems to streamline the furniture and create a much less cluttered layout. It reminds me of Jim’s post about the cafe and his observation that long tables change the dynamic of interactions in a public space. It will be interesting to hear what you notice in your class over time.

Liz – it certainly can be frustrating not having a space of your own to work with. From looking at your sketches (thank you for making them!), semester 2 seems a lot safer than the semester 1 layout as you were saying, and that’s really important.
Unless I’m mistaken, it looks like the chairs and tables look relatively easy to move, or at least I hope that is the case. I don’t have any real suggestions for improvements, other than to keep making changes (or prototypes as Tim Brown would say!) and get feedback. Since design thinking is so user oriented, maybe asking the students for a brainstorming session during one class can indicate how they think the layout of the room would be best for learning. Turn the students into the designers!

Good luck Liz! Looks like you’re doing a great job with what you have to work with in a nice space!

Shannon

I can sympathise with you … this task can most certainly have some challenges. You certainly look like you have address a variety of issues, as well as receiving positive feedback.

Hi Liz,
In agreement with other comments regarding the less cluttered look and I especially like the idea of flipping the room around. I love repositioning and repurposing spaces in ways that we had not thought to try previously.
If you do get any option to place addition powerpoints etc, I have found that placing them high up a wall and even on the ceiling can resolve the tripping hazard. It costs about $250 to add a new point, as long as it is within reach of the current internal cabling.
Good luck with your endeavours.

Chantal, we’ve probably got enough powerpoints around the library so usually it’s not a problem and normally, I’d show audio visual materials in a classroom space rather than the main library space so the cord issue hadn’t really come up much. I used to have the textiles room as my class teaching space (that I shared with whoever wanted to book it) which allowed me to have the best of both worlds in a way. I’m hoping that being in the home ec theory room will alleviate many of my problems but I’ll be keen to see how the space is being used at lunch/recess to see whether I need to trial an aisle option.

It’s quite tough to find a problem area in a) a space you don’t ‘own’ and b) when you’ve been making small adjustments for such a long time. There’s no even keel on which to base the next step. That’s where maybe thinking of each step as one prototype, before making changes based on how it is actually used, might be useful. Then you can keep track of previous versions in case it might be better to go back to one of them.

Also, I thought this was interesting:
“I still need to get feedback on how teachers & students like the current arrangement, or if they’d prefer an aisle and then which option.”

As you read more in weeks 4/5/6 on the unknown unknowns, it might be that this is a leading question, and the wrong one at that. Maybe there are options neither you nor the students/teachers are aware of. Instead, it might be worth doing another ‘dry’ observation of how the space is being used, then make some more small tweaks to see if the difference is a positive one or not.

Great reflections, though. Thanks for sharing.

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