INF536 Critical Reflection Part B of Assessment 6


Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536, required blog tasks | Posted on October 13, 2014

Reflecting on my learning journey through INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning, I have changed for the better. When I began this subject, I was anticipating learning about physical space design for learning only. While I have learnt a lot about this, including focusing my Case Study on the physical design of a Senior Study Area, I have also begun to consider the on-line learning experience as an aspect of my teaching that needs to be considered. This has not yet been explored in detail as I have had little input in the selection and creation of such spaces for my school at this stage. However, I did have a brief play in google docs for the immersion task with Ngaire, Megan & Jo. This is an area I’d like to explore further if I have the permission of the school/education department to do so (perceived privacy issues).

The physical spaces that I have now begun to use, include the breakout space concept as outlined in an earlier blog post. The idea of multiple spaces (Dovey & Fisher, 2014; JISC, 2006; Thornburg, 2007) within the classroom area (or nearby) was eye-opening and gave me the confidence to try implementing this idea in my own teaching. I have also begun to expand my thinking about space in the library and learning opportunities. I would not have done observations in detail like the immersion task required before. I would have just done a more cursory viewing and then changed spaces to attempt to improve what I thought needed solving; sometimes without the consultation of the other main stakeholders, the students. While I still may not ask them what they think they want, I at least attempt to consider things from their viewpoint, sit in their chairs to see what the space looks like from their point of view, not just my circulation desk/ office desk spaces. I am aware of literature behind some of the concepts that are recommending the multiple spaces and I can argue with staff and the administration about the need for the alternate spaces; the need to consider acoustic noise and reduction (Treasure, 2012).

I’ve begun to think like a designer, although I’m still grappling with the understanding of Concept-Knowledge theory. That would have to be the hardest reading I encountered within INF536. Having read it, though, has helped my understanding of why the prototyping and ideation should be occuring. With some of the other readings (Hatchuel et al., 2004; Melles, 2010; Simon, 1973)  gave me a better idea of what design thinking is, and why I should start thinking like this.

Reinforcing the immersion idea, I had the following blog post on shadowing students come through my email list today and in a way, I think that it encourages the contemplating of the classroom design, and part of that includes the lesson & curriculum, and how it is structured. Good design for learning doesn’t just include the physical space; it includes lesson planning, digital materials (as required for the topic), acoustics, lighting, curriculum and the group dynamics and expectations of students in regard to learning AND it doesn’t always need to be in a traditional classroom.



Dovey, K., & Fisher, K. (2014). Designing for adaptation: the school as socio-spatial assemblage. The Journal of Architecture, 19(1), 43–63. doi:10.1080/13602365.2014.882376

Eckert, L. (2014, September 21). The Design of Education – notes. Retrieved from

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

JISC. (2006, March 16). Designing Learning Spaces. Retrieved from

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). Sydney. Retrieved from

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

Thornburg, D. (2007). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st Century. Thornburg Center for Professional Development. Retrieved from

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

Wiggins, G. (2014, October 10). A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned. Retrieved from

student attitudes to study


Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on October 10, 2014

Students often appeared to have a disinterest in completing their work to pass their SACE.

Students were often seen socialising, often talking of weekend activities (usually inappropriate conversation for the school setting) or of relationships (also in terms that were not appropriate for the school setting), playing cards and games on devices, movies and television episodes not related to school work were also viewed.

Students often indicated that staff would help them get through even though they had not put in the effort early enough to achieve the grades that students were potentially capable of. This may be due to the habit of teachers rescuing students and passing students with late submitted work that has been a culture within the school. It is also recognised that South Australia is particularly strong in this from some of the analysis of NAPLAN results. This was mentioned as coming from a research paper by the principal of the school. The article has not been re-located to reference here.

Some of this behaviour could be explained by the subject choices that students had made. Some students were completing practical based subjects like Woodwork & Metalwork and had little work that required the use of the senior study area. Research Project being the main subject needing the library.

Senior student concerns


Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on October 10, 2014

Previous years (prior to 2014), senior students have been allowed to work wherever they chose within the school without direct supervision.There was often a designated space that students were encouraged to work in. This space had been moved from year to year for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was the operational needs of the school. Another was the condition that the space was often left in, usually a mess for the cleaners to clean up. The space was often vandalised and equipment that was located in the space, particularly computers and other IT related equipment, was often damaged so that other students could not use the equipment. Students also had access to a wet area for tea & coffee etc however, little care was taken to clean the area and keep it tidy. Often food was ground into the carpet or squashed into the furniture.

This lead to a number of concerns expressed by staff. It was decided that from 2014, students would be supervised to minimise the damage and mess that was being left by students.

South Australian Senior Secondary Patterns


Posted by Liz Eckert | Posted in INF536 | Posted on October 6, 2014

 Year 11 & 12 in South Australian schools

In South Australia, Year 11 & 12 (final years of secondary school) has the following expectations. Many schools complete the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) which starts in Year 10 with a compulsory subject. Some schools complete the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.


There are 4 compulsory subjects which are completed over Year 10-12. These subjects must be completed at a C grade or better to achieve the SACE certificate. Each semester is worth 10 credits, with full year subjects worth 20 credits. Typically year 12 students complete/start Research Project in semester 1 and study 3 or 4 other subjects, depending on VET (Vocational Education & Training) credits, and if they are on a university pathway.

Stage 1 is Year 11 and Stage 2 is Year 12.

About the SACE gives a brief overview of the expectations.

Yr 10 

Personal Learning Plan is part of the SACE which has students looking at future possibilities in the work of work and how they may get there. It is to assist students in making appropriate subject choices for Year 11 & 12 for future possible pathways.

Yr 11 & 12

Typically the compulsory 2 semesters of English, 1 semester of Mathematics are completed at Year 11 to ensure that they are completed to the minimum C grade (C- grade at Year 12) standard required.

Yr 12

Research Project is a compulsory one semester subject.

The Research Project is a compulsory subject, which most students undertake in Year 12. It’s worth 10 credits, and you need to achieve a C- grade or higher to gain the SACE.

The Research Project gives you a chance to explore something you are interested in, in-depth. It could be a scientific study, an art project, a community-based project, a historical investigation, or any number of other options.

It gives you a chance to use your creativity and initiative while developing research, project management, analysis and evaluation skills, which are important for work and further study.

There are two types of Research Project you can choose:

  • Research Project A – your external assessment can be presented in a variety of ways, such as a PowerPoint presentation or short film
  • Research Project B – your external assessment must be a written report, and you can use your final grade in Research Project B as part of your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

Stage 2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from       

Typically if no VET subjects are being completed by students, Year 11s complete 6 subjects per semester and Year 12s complete 4 or 5 subjects in first semester and 3 subjects in second semester. These subjects include the compulsory subjects.

The school pattern for case study

This school uses SACE for Year 11 & 12 not IB

The case study school uses a 7 subject timetable with 4 lessons a week across the whole school. One line is early dismissal or study line for all Year 11 & 12 students. This time allows teachers to potentially have catch up lessons with students to reinforce concepts, complete assessment tasks, or have students complete compulsory subjects which they have not yet passed.

In second semester some Year 11s are offered Research Project on this line to allow them a head start for Year 12 if they are intending a university pathway.

Year 11s typically undertake 6 subjects for both semesters.

Year 12s usually  complete 3 full year subjects if not looking at a university pathway or 4 full year subjects if doing a university pathway. This is in addition to Research Project in semester 1, with some students being withdrawn in Semester 1 and being re-enrolled in semester 2 to ensure that all Year 12 students complete Research Project at the minimum C- standard. This means that most Year 12 students have 2 or 3 compulsory study lines, depending on after school pathway. There is the early dismissal or optional study line on top of these 2 to 3 study lines.

VET students in Year 11 and/or Year 12 are withdrawn from one or two subjects (non-compulsories) depending on how many courses that they are completing. These students are then given study lines instead. VET students are often out of school for one day a week completing their qualifications. This additional study line/s are intended to allow students to complete work relating to either their VET course or their school subjects that they may have missed due to the VET day that they are out of school.

Some Year 12 students may have up to 4 study lines, some Year 11 students may have 2 or 3 study lines.


Personal Learning Place Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

SACE Board of SA. (n.d.). About the SACE. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

Stage 2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

case development – drafting #2 images


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

Images of layouts during Term 1 – 3 2014 of Senior Study Area (SSA). All but #1 were taken from next to the circulation desk where the supervisor was often placed for study lessons. From Layout #3 onwards the new books display and/or bookcase was moved from along the dividing carpet line (solid light gray carpet). Layout #2 originally had the new books display where the bookcase is and the bookcase was in front of the first row of tables, blocking view of the first rows of students from the circulation desk.

The Senior Study Break Out stayed the same throughout the year. Students were able to move some small ottomans around the area but these were not always located there. The long green ottoman, currently next to the table is usually located under the window.

Senior break out labelled

Senior Study layout 1

Senior Study Layout #1

Senior Study layout 2

Senior Study Layout #2

Senior Study Layout #3

Senior Study Layout #3

Senior Study Layout #4

Senior Study Layout #4

Senior Study Layout #5

Senior Study Layout #5

Senior Study Layout #6

Senior Study Layout #6

Layout #6 is the current layout which is under trial as it was only set up after parent teacher interview night (last Thursday of Term 3). The idea is to offer a variety of spaces for students, groups, quiet study (along wall and next to window) with some table rows for the students who prefer this option.


case development – drafting


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. 


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


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


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


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

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.



Thornburg, D. (1995). Student-centered learning. Electronic Learning, 14(7), 18. Retrieved from

starting the case study thinking


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


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:

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.


Blyth, A. (2012). Design of Education, Pan European Networks: Government 04. November 2012. Retrieved from:

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

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