case development – drafting

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 27, 2014

Case development: Briefly describe a scenario from your current or previous learning environment where physical and/or virtual space was changed with the goal of impacting on student learning. Include in your description of the case how it was conceived, led and managed (500 words). Your case is a description of what occurred from your perspective. 

INTRODUCTION

Case Study: Senior Study Area of the Resource Centre

The Senior Study Area (SSA) has been a designated area for senior students in 2014. This allowed students to complete school work and do research as required for subjects under supervision and with access to assistance if required.  This is a new venture (need an alternate word for this – don’t like this one) for 2014. From 2015, students will be located in a senior school centre in another part of the school which is being redeveloped. The SSA has been an open planned computer classroom, and a teaching clasroom space in the previous three years. In 2015, the space will change from SSA to a open planned class area most likely as there are other developments planned for the  library space in the future. The need for re-designing was based on student interactions in the space, and the need (prefer an alternate word for this – don’t like this one) to support/enhance student’s learning and study habits which at times was severely impacted on the design the space and the student interaction resulting in the layout. 

 

Physical space & collaboration

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 23, 2014

Reflect:

Serendipity and creative conflict, built on deep human collaboration, make the world go around. Physical space never seems to be a barrier to entrepreneurs in the creative, engineering or science space.

  • What about in your own learning environment? Which elements of physical space prevent a barrier to effective collaboration?
  • Which elements of the physical environment around you force collaboration where it would be better for learners to work individually?

classroom space – rigid rows, not much space between them – barely enough for students to get in & out of. Tables have bars around 3 sides, about foot height (tables used to be computer desks in another part of the library); doesn’t allow students to easily sit around the table to interact with topics being studies effectively. One table is larger and has no bars but is at the front of the room as it doesn’t line up with the others. This table is easier to collaborate with but being right at the front of the room, not too many students want to use it; it’s filled up last. The class that I do have in this space is quite vocal and loud and can be at times hard to re-direct/focus if I need to explain something to the whole group.

Being so tight in the rows does mean that students quite often get off task/topic/behaviour and distract others near them from their learning. There is also limited amount of seats to move students around to reduce the unnecessary interactions.

Reflections on Student-Centered Learning

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 23, 2014

Thornburg, D. (1995). Student-centered learning. Electronic Learning, 14(7), 18. Retrieved from  http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/218768054

Thornburg puts forward a variety of points related to how one might harness technology and space to put students more at the centre of their learning. He draws on the theatrical notion of ‘place’ and ‘space’. How might these influence our definition of purpose for different spaces in our learning environments?

The idea of being a team rather than the traditional teacher (or substitute) leads the classroom is an interesting idea. Often we’re still in the traditional format from what I’ve seen in many  secondary classroom situations. This idea is the one that many researchers are advocating, with sense, however, it is hard to change as a teacher, when all you’ve experienced is the former. It’s hard to break those behaviour patterns without a lot of effort and time.

In a way it was amusing to see that this was promoted and advocated the year I finished high school and not a lot has changed in many teacher’s practice that I’ve seen or heard. Some teachers have embraced the new collaborative way of learning and are helping students be able to choose their learning interests and have authentic audiences. There’s still a lot of front of the classroom stuff by the teacher. Some of this seems to be driven by the teacher’s perceived need / pressure  to cover the curriculum.

 

Reference:

Thornburg, D. (1995). Student-centered learning. Electronic Learning, 14(7), 18. Retrieved from  http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/218768054

starting the case study thinking

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 22, 2014

Copy of my forum post for Assignment 6.

thinking of looking at my senior study area for case study BUT I’m not too sure about it as it’s mainly been shifting tables around to “manage” a group of yr 12 boys who don’t want to work and whose conversations are not really appropriate for school.

I’ve also played with the layouts of the large ottomans that we have in the library. Mainly to “manage” rather off task Yr 12s again – quite a few card games being played there – nearly every single lesson for a while by the same students who (almost) never did any school related work. The space was often used for social chatting of inappropriate topics as well. They didn’t even play the “pretend I’m working even though you know I’m not working” game – the one where you have something school/book related in front of you to make it look like you’re doing something even when you’re not.

My first change for blog#1 was the other end of the library where I just shifted tables around and only needed to swap over to one other possibility that I brainstormed.

The library space is looking at being converted to a student learning hub / student services area in the next 1-3 years with the possibility of more offices being put in, reduced spaces for resources, pods and break-out spaces. Yr 12s will be going to a new senior school area next year (currently being renovated). This library change is still in the early planning stages and currently I’m not involved much in this – I’ve had some input with my current line manager but given that I’m part-time contract, it’s been a bit hard to get involved more.

I haven’t really played in on-line learning spaces and my teaching classroom is shared with the home Ec staff as it’s their theory room this year so I can’t move it around much, very tight space which means I do use the library to break out more than I have in the past. (I miss my old classroom space in the library that I could re-arrange as needed that is temporarily the textiles/sewing room – hopefully I get it back soon/early next year)

The Design of Education – notes

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 21, 2014

Comments & notes on the following reading:

Blyth, A. (2012). Design of Education, Pan European Networks: Government 04. November 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.paneuropeannetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/5_A-Blyth-6001-6002-Atl.pdf

Flexibility in classrooms is a loaded word – means a lot, probably more than many are prepared to realise, some may not be aware of all the nuances that this word means in education.

spaces that are responsive to
the needs of education should also be what I
would call ‘agile’. While flexibility might be
described as being able to change a part of a
building or classroom, the idea of being agile
means being able to make these changes
quickly, enabling classrooms or other spaces to
be reorganised always on the spur of the
moment (p264)

I think I prefer agile – I know my library space is reasonably agile, at least the tables and large ottomans are. The shelves are a little more problematic. The reference & magazines shelves, interesting reads & careers & issues shelves are moveable but require a lessons notice to allow the books to be removed as they are quick heavy bookcases.

Going back to flexibility, there is more recognition
of the importance of using different sizes of
space, so that the flexibility lies in the provision
of variation rather than just one big area that can
be subdivided. Flexibility is not just about having
one big room where one big partition is in use to
subdivide the room. In fact, we are seeing many
more examples where you have different sizes of
space that are made available to cater for different
types of configurations for learning, whether it is
small group learning or larger spaces.

It is also important to consider what happens
outside the four walls of the educational
environment. There is much more interest in the
idea of utilising spaces outside the school for their
learning. It is not a particularly new idea but is
being recognised as more important. Another
great opportunity is how other types of buildings
can be reused as learning environments (p267)

 

Very often architects do not fully appreciate the
nuances in the language of education, and educators will not always be
able to read architectural plans and drawings. (p267)

This is reminded me of an article used in my literature critique by Dovey & Fisher which starts to allow designers/architects to understand educators and vice-versa.

One other area which needs attention is finding ways of helping teachers use the space better (p267)

Teachers are usually comfortable with the status quo and don’t always think of new ways to use the spaces that they may be provided with in ways that will help 21st century students.  I have to say that this course, in particular this subject, is helping me consider and try new ways of using space. I would not have used break out spaces, and trusted many of my students to do work without me looking over their shoulders, checking up on them, before starting. Now I am starting to explore options and ideas about how I can best use spaces, and mix up what I expect students to do in the variety of spaces that are provided to them in my classroom & the library which I can use readily as it’s right outside my classroom.

While educators
are talking about new techniques and pedagogies, a huge amount is still
conducted with students all lined up in a row with the teacher at the front
of the class. It is very difficult to break that mould. One way of doing this
might be for designers to work with teachers about how teachers can
use the spaces differently, but it’s something designers keep coming
across. Put simply, designing a new school with a different layout isn’t
going to mean teaching is done any differently. If they don’t want to take
the opportunity of using their new spaces in different ways, they will try
to get the whole thing to work as it used to. (p267)

I want to be someone who doesn’t make their classroom spaces always behave in the same old way. I want to try to break the mould of me always being up the front teaching. My current Yr 8 Geography class, in a way, is making sure that I don’t do this as they can’t seem to work like that, the personalities in it mean that it is a much more social group, which no strong peer pressure to work in the traditional chalk (board) & talk format that I grew up with and am mostly comfortable with.

References:

Blyth, A. (2012). Design of Education, Pan European Networks: Government 04. November 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.paneuropeannetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/5_A-Blyth-6001-6002-Atl.pdf

Dovey, K., & Fisher, K. (2014). Designing for adaptation: the school as socio-spatial assemblage. The Journal of Architecture19(1), 43–63. doi:10.1080/13602365.2014.882376

Creative Coffee reflection

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536, required blog tasks | Posted on September 17, 2014

While I see the value in this activity, I did find it hard as the online searching I did to try and find something already happening in Adelaide didn’t lead to much that I would be able to access. One TheHub looked like a possibility, but the information presented by the group suggested that it was more of a location for organisations to come to do their brainstorming etc than a true creative coffee space. It looked like there was the possibility of a lunch meet up but this was not going suit the life of a teacher as it happens during the week. Teachmeets aren’t regular in Adelaide and I wasn’t comfortable with putting one on without anyone else to help me organise one or having previously attended one. My outside of school life activities can be quite restrictive due to my young family.

 

Some discussions in the forum, via twitter & email lead to semi-combined creative coffee type sessions shared with Margaret Simkin who is based in Hamilton Vic. I ended up with some virtual coffee.

We tried some twitter chat with not a lot of additional input from others apart from INF536 students.  Thanks to Margaret Simkin for creating the twitter feed images.

I tried to use Facebook as well to link into the twitter chat but I only got one response who was going to read it the next day and they weren’t on twitter so that didn’t work as well as I was hoping.

Facebook post for Creative Coffee

Facebook post for Creative Coffee

It looks like I don’t have a high tweeting staff.  I even made that post public as I’m usually quite tight in my privacy settings on Facebook.

We had a few hiccups trying to connect online to attempt to link so I could participate in the discussions in Hamilton; internet connections were a little patchy at times and some software wasn’t happy to behave for us. We attempted several google hangouts as dry runs but we couldn’t accept each other’s calls or invitations. Thankfully, Margaret was able to have her IT Techs help her set up a Lync invitation that I was able to accept through the web app version as my school doesn’t have Lync set up (something in at the central office have restricted for school sites in South Australia).

Before testing the Lync connection, I had a few of my Year 8 Geography students who had completed their assignment attempt a brainstorm in pairs and small groups on what they would like to have in their classroom/library space. Our classroom is internally located in the library so we can breakout to the library from time to time.  My intention was to use some of the ideas they expressed as a part of the conversation with the Hamilton group. I was aiming to be someone that they were not used to.

Year 8 brainstorming: Question: If you could change anything about your classroom / library experience when learning, what would you change? (sorry you can’t change teacher or students)

Yr 8 creative coffee notes

Unfortunately I scanned my students notes as a 3*A3 page PDF file rather than a jpeg.

One of the ideas that I tried to share with the Hamilton group was the bright colours that my students suggested which wasn’t recorded on their sheets. I was keen to see what they thought to that idea.

In the end the audio connection was really hard to hear as there was a lot of background noises in the 3-way connection that we had going.

The two of us online trying to listen in to Hamilton ended up having a chat in the side bar

 

Side bar chat:

liz eckert

I’m finding it hard to hear what the students are saying I’m catching phrases here & there but not at lot

12:58 PM


Deborah

Me too. I did hear one of them mention a fountain!

Lost the sound

12:59 PM


liz eckert

The joys of trying out different tech.

1:00 PM


Deborah

Lovely to have a view into another school though

1:00 PM


liz eckert

definitely’

love the flags – full sized hanging in the library

1:00 PM


Deborah

We have someone taking Zumba outside – Mental Health week

1:01 PM


liz eckert

I asked my Yr 8 students this morning for ideas about what they would change about their classroom  & got some interesting answers –

they want single desks (allows for re-arrnaging

1:03 PM


Deborah

There’s a lot of natural light in your Library Margaret!

1:03 PM


liz eckert

*re-arranging; laptops &other devices; bigger classrooms (we are a loud group when we get going); they want to listen to music; able to go into the breakout spaces in the library more often; more comfortable furniture; make the classroom brighter; different colours on the wall

1:04 PM


Deborah

Could you hear our school bell???

1:04 PM


liz eckert

yep! not always in my library

1:05 PM


Deborah

The feedback is teachers and students like our library, but think it can be too noisy.

1:07 PM


liz eckert

the bright colours on the wall idea that my students came up with this morning was one that I wanted to see if Margaret’s school would change as well. Thought it was rather an interesting idea

 

1:08 PM


Deborah

Margaret – were they drawing ideas or writing them?

End Side Bar Chat

I’m intending to expand my brainstorming/chatting with my Yr 8 students in their Friday lesson this week when I have a School Support Officer (SSO) in the classroom and I’m also looking at grabbing some of the senior students who will be in the library to participate as well.

 

References:

Twitter feeds images

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/files/2014/09/Creative-cooffee-twitter-Stream-begins-238p5bd.jpg

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/files/2014/09/Creative-cooffee-twitter-Stream-3-1hlzzil.jpg

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/files/2014/09/Creative-cooffee-twitter-Stream-2-19lkhqv.jpg

 

 

Comments on other blogs:

Margaret

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/09/15/creative-coffee-inventive-format/#comment-68 

Graham

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/cloudingaround/2014/09/20/coffee-check-chalkboard-cookies-check-creative-people-check-lets-get-this-party-started/#comment-23

Liz

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lizcrowder/2014/09/20/blog-task-4-creative-coffee-morning/#comment-19

 

Added note:

I enjoyed reading all the blog posts that I saw in the blogroll about the creative coffee sessions. I didn’t respond to all as sometimes all I wanted to say was good job, or I had a smile when reading them.

reflection on The future of physical learning environment

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 11, 2014

Task: In this paper, the authors propose a model for a ‘perfect’ learning environment, based on their research on the influence of technology and space on learning. When you see the resultant proposed space, does it now feel out-of-date, have you experienced good or poor learning in a similar space, and are there elements that are worth maintaining in new learning space design?

Kuuskorpi, M. & Cabellos González, N. (2011),The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities that Support the User, CELE Exchange, Centre for Effective Learning Environments, 2011/11, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0lkz2d9f2-en

I was a little surprised when I saw the ideal learning space.  They wanted space for the traditional format, space for pair work & space for group work. I’m not sure why I was surprised. I think it might have been through the lack of “breakout” space terms for multiple, small groups of students and not just one group work space.

The Future of the Physical Learning Environment

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 11, 2014

Reflections on: The Future of the Physical Learning Environment School Facilities that Support the User

In its narrowest sense, a physical learning environment is seen as a conventional classroom and, in its widest sense, as a combination of formal and informal education systems where learning takes place both inside and outside of schools (Manninen et al., 2007). Manninen criticised traditional school teaching for conveying too much theoretical information and for preventing in-depth learning. He claims that inert knowledge is relevant for exams but not for real-world problems. (p2)

The second sentence of this quote is important to note in the light of the new ACARA curriculum and many classrooms today. Teachers feel the pressure to get through the content of the curriculum and not allow for the more in-depth, student-lead learning options.

The basic structure of teaching spaces does not seem to have evolved much over the past century. This fact inspired the research team to investigate the reason why, despite the recent changes in pedagogy and the widespread use of information technology inside classrooms and school spaces, the physical learning environment has not yet changed in keeping with this evolution. (p2)

Some of this seems to be because designers aren’t aware of the changing pedagogies and educational theories that are now in practice, and teachers are doing what they can to adapt the current spaces to the new requirements of the learning that students can do, including involving technologies, and web based learning.

The ideal learning space on page 5 was interesting – they wanted space for the traditional format, space for pair work & space for group work.

Reference:

Kuuskorpi, M. & Cabellos González, N. (2011),The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities that Support the User, CELE Exchange, Centre for Effective Learning Environments, 2011/11, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0lkz2d9f2-en

literature critique wordle

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in Other | Posted on September 2, 2014

 
Wordle: Design theory and education theoryI figured I'd try out a wordle for my literature critique - looks quite pretty

Literature Critique

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Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on September 2, 2014

 For better or worse, here’s my attempt at the INF536 literature critique. Not all the formatting transferred across though. 

 

Literature Critique of:

 

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

Duke, B., Harper, G., & Johnston, M. (2013). Connectivism as a digital age learning theory. The  International HETL Review., (Special Issue 2013), 4–13. Retrieved from https://www.hetl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HETLReview2013SpecialIssueArticle1.pdf

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Retrieved from http://www.designsociety.org/download-publication/19760/c-k_theory_in_practice_lessons_from_industrial_applications

Kropf, D. C. (2013). Connectivism: 21st Century’s New Learning Theory. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(2), 13 – 24. Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2013/Kropf.pdf

Pritchard, A. (2008). Ways of Learning : Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What Is Design Thinking and Why Is It Important? Review of Educational Research, 82(3), 330–348. doi:10.3102/0034654312457429

 

Introduction

There are no concrete design theories as there seems to be in educational circles for learning theories which leads to some confusion when trying to understand design theories in practice compared to more structured educational learning theories. Currently the main two educational theories which are considered in classrooms and teaching practice are constructivism and connectivism. It is hard to create a unified concept for both educators and designers to understand and relate to when developing learning spaces for 21st century schools and learning.

Design Theories

With no clearly defined design theories, it can be hard to compare how varied design dispositions impact on learning spaces.  However there are similarities in some of the main design areas as to the processes used. Razzouk & Shute note that

Design starts as a cloudy idea about how the design/product should look like and how it should work. With time, this idea crystallizes and transforms into a clear and complete image of the product. (Razzouk & Shute, 2012, p. 335)

This highlights the accepted concept of known-knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns in many design theories, often not expressed as clearly and concisely as Rumsfeld (Donald Rumsfeld Unknown Unknowns !, 2009).  Hatcheul, Le Masson & Weil (2004) use the Knowledge space (known-knowns) and Concepts (known-unknowns, unknown-unknowns) terms as alternatives. The process used to clarify the unknowns can be helpful to consider. There is a lot of iteration in clarifying the concept and knowledge spaces of the Hatchel, Le Masson & Weil theory. This is also the same in many other design processes, where designers modify their designs on new information that becomes available through the design process (Braha & Reich cited in Razzouk & Shute, 2012, p. 335). The process of clarifying the unknowns and knowns into the requirements of the client also differs in the terminology and process dependent on the designer and design process used. Tim Brown (2009) in his book, Change by Design, outlines three areas of innovation: inspiration, ideation and implementation. These three areas assist in clarifying the options which are worth exploring and considering for final implementation for the client. Part of the ideation and implementation process is feedback on what works or does not work in the prototype. Brown (2009) is also a strong advocator of early prototyping often as part of the iterative process. ”Fail early to succeed sooner” (Brown, 2009, p. 17) is a key theme of Brown’s in the design process. The self-correcting process used when prototyping aids in the clarifying of whether the idea presented as a part of the design solution is an effective one or not.

Educational Theories

There are two main educational theories operating in classrooms today. They are constructivism which is where the majority of classrooms are still operating today, and connectivism, where classrooms are moving towards to allowing the connectivity of the internet and learner centred approach to enhance learning experiences.

Constructivism views “learning as the result of mental construction. That is, learning takes place when new information is built into and added onto an individual’s current structure of knowledge, understanding and skills.” (Pritchard, 2008, p. 18)

Whereas connectivism “is social learning that is networked” (Duke, Harper, & Johnston, 2013, p. 6). It is harnessing the ability of students to make connections, designing their learning using the many and varied technologies that are now available to students and teachers.  Connectivism also incorporates many of the educational theories as aspects of the networks that students are able to tap into to develop their learning. Kropf  (2013, p. 15) suggests that there are three main reservoirs that support the connectivist learning that students can engage with: online classrooms, including massive open online courses (MOOCs); social networks, including podcasts and video clips; and virtual reality platforms, including 3-dimensional video games.

Many school classrooms were designed with behaviourist theory behind them as that was the current educational model at the time many schools were designed. Behaviourist theory is focused on observable behaviours and discounting any mental activity. … the acquisition of new behaviour (Pritchard, 2008, p. 7)  Students were expected to face the teacher and learn what they said, not much collaboration or interaction between students. Not much has changed in accepted classroom space design since then as it is the expected format for most classrooms, square or rectangular rooms with a whiteboard (interactive at best) at the front of the room.  Designers may not be aware of the newer educational theories that teachers and schools are beginning to operate within.

Design Theory meets Educational Theory: Tensions & Discords

In some ways design theory and educational theory are compatible, particularly in the student experience in developing their knowledge, iteration and feedback. This is often the only areas that use a similar language and understanding. Teachers use feedback for students on their work; designers when asking if their design concepts will work or be considered by their clients.

Many of the concepts and language used in design theory do not transfer easily to the educational setting. Gardiner notes that

Making the jump from research to practice is a challenge. Academia is often criticised for not making results accessible or relevant, while creative industries are accused of neglecting evidence. (Gardiner, 2013, p. 6)

This is often the case that designers and educators do not communicate their research effectively to each other. While the processes used by designers can be transferred to education, it is often not transferred, as teachers do not see themselves as designers in the traditional sense. They are not used to the formal design thinking processes as described in the literature  like those presented by Hatchuel, Le Masson & Weil (2004), Razzouk & Shute (2012), and Brown (2009). Designers have not shared that knowledge readily with their educational clients in the past. It has not been seen as a necessary part of the educational degree program.  Some universities are beginning to offer design courses for more than just traditional design-based careers. Melles (2010) has highlighted a number of tertiary institutions around the world that are offering university level courses in design as part of a range of course offerings which are not limited to design students.  These include Rotman School of Management, Toronto (Canada), Stanford University’s D-School, Open University UK, University of Minnesota College of Design, North Carolina State University, Simon Fraser University, HPI: Universitat Potsdam, and Swinburne University. Charles Sturt University is also adding to this list with its  offering of INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning as part of its Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations)(Charles Sturt University, 2014).

Traditionally, designers do not show where their thinking for ideas comes from or their research to support some of the ideas that they put forward. Educators do not show this in their design briefs either. Walker Technology College (Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College., n.d.) is an exception in the detail that they have presented their architect with. More often design briefs are detailed lists of minimum requirements, clearly identifying constraints without necessarily offering insights as to how the spaces might be used. Examples can be seen in the Queensland Department of Education and Training Section 5 – Building Design Standards for DET Facilities Version 2.0 (2011), Melbourne University’s Project Brief (2007) and General Design Brief for Post-Primary Schools (Planning & Building Unit, Department of Education & Science, 2000).

When teachers and other learning facilitators look at the learning environment, there can be problems and concerns that designers may or may not be aware of. This is particularly of note, when considering the structure of many classroom spaces and the needs of the 21st century learner.  Technology has exceeded what many classrooms were designed for. Considerations for wireless connections, lighting, projectors and interactive whiteboards were not needed when a large number of schools today were built. Many of these considerations were not needed even in the 1990s and early 2000s. Schools are now, redesigning classrooms and buildings to meet the technological demands and learning needs of students, when they are not designing completely new buildings entirely.

There are tensions when design for these new and/or refreshed learning spaces is occurring. One is the designers lack of knowledge regarding current educational theory, which does not always help students and staff have learning spaces to make the best use of changing technologies.  Often, it seems as though the end users, teachers and students, are not consulted. Often those that are consulted are the administration. How a process is put in place that informs designers/architects of new pedagogies and classroom cultures is a key tension missing in practice.

Design in practice

The consultation part of the design process is often left late to consult with the end users, often just the teaching staff and not the students.  Examples of this can be seen in INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning 2014 student blogs (Bailie, 2014; Masaoka, 2014) where architects have interacted with the library staff late in the design process. Leeson (2014) also notes that when end users are consulted, it is often not the whole realm of users who are consulted, in Leeson’s case, just the academic staff where involved in the design process and not those supporting the academic staff who would also be using the space. Pilloton (2010) is one of a few examples of designers interacting with schools to design spaces for learning and talking to the teachers and staff and the wider community. Pilloton has gone from being a designer to a designer educator as she has completed the requirements to be a teacher in the Bertie County school system. Although in setting up her design for the school, it appears that she has not consulted with students either. Students may not have been consulted as they are regularly changing in cohort and are typically gone from the school environment within five to seven years, depending of the schooling system.

Dovey & Fisher (2014) do offer a way around this lack of apparent consultation of designers with educational personnel as they have analysed many of the forms of learning spaces which are desired for 21st century learning. This highlights many of the learning spaces which are now required by students and staff while also looking at the historical aspects of school design and why classrooms were designed the way that they were. It allows teachers and school administration a common language to be able to discuss their student learning needs with architects and designers.

Demonstrating and illustrating the educational requirements of learning spaces is highly recommended.  Bennett (2005) demonstrates another way of showing designers what is wanted of learning spaces, although he uses other fields, such as the hospital setting, to demonstrate some of this, when actually observing what is wanted and why it is wanted. Observing the settings, recording in some way if possible, makes it easier for the designer to understand the educational requirements of the spaces requested. Walker Technical College have done this in a glossy, polished format for their potential architects.  The example from Walker Technical College (Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College., n.d.), shows a strong consultative process with their staff and students about what they require of a new school building. They have presented their case to the designer/architect clearly and with reasoning behind their requirements. They have also presented the style of learning that they want to offer students at Walker Technical College. They have clearly outlined that it is not the traditional classroom space that many are familiar with that they want for 21st century learning.

Conclusions

While feedback is important, it often appears that this is the most readily transferred design aspect between designers and educators. Teachers do this readily for students in their classes; designers do this when clarifying unknowns with their clients and checking if their design meets their clients’ approval.

It would be recommended that educators take the time to introduce the educational merits behind some of the requests for specific types of learning spaces to designers, such as Dovey & Fisher (2014) have outlined in their research. It could be recommended that educators look at similar research documents as this to assist in the design process. Combining documents such as this with the dry, specifications documents that many education departments produce for building design would help to enhance the 21st century teaching and learning by students. It would also allow the designer a clearer look at the known-knowns and the known-unknowns with the opportunities to explore possible unknown-unknowns in the school specific situation.

Consideration needs to also go into the presentation of the educational requirements of re-designed or newly designed learning spaces. Giving designers this information will lead to better designed spaces from early on in the design process.  Asking for feedback or clarification of users, student and staff, of the perceived requirements of the learning space earlier on will help them feel that their input into the process is important and valued. They are the people who will be using the space regularly, daily even. Accessing and sharing research into how different aspects of the design with teachers and students on the designers’ behalf will also assist in the understanding of why some decisions are made.  Literature such as Daylighting and visual performance: evaluation of classroom design issues in the UAE (Al-Sallal, 2010), (re)-Envisioning Classroom Design with Light and Colour (Johnson & Ruiter, 2013), and  Breaking with tradition (“Breaking with tradition,” 2011) when presented to educational staff, will help understanding of the choices made in the design offered to schools and why schools are requesting certain features in their design requests.

Encouraging and supporting the further education of teachers and school administrators in becoming aware of design thinking processes will aid in the design of learning spaces for the 21st century through such courses as offered through Charles Sturt University, Swinburne University in Australia will allow a better understanding of the design process. This will enhance the learning of students in spaces designed for connectivist learning.

Reference List

 

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Bailie, H. (2014, August 30). A vertical library. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2014/08/30/a-vertical-library/

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