Blog Task 1

BLOG TASK #1

The problem space to be re-designed is an extended corner of the school library. I have observed that students tend to gravitate there, however any learning is inhibited by inappropriate placement of furniture.  A set of shelves is located in the corner, half empty with some unappealing baskets of books. In close proximity to the shelves is an interactive whiteboard which is currently the main focus of the teaching space. Behind the interactive whiteboard are louvered windows which let in an abundance of natural light.

The problems are:

  • The shelf, which is half-empty takes up space which could serve a better purpose
  • There is often intense glare on the board which makes it difficult to see.
  • There is a need to remove the interactive  board from the central focus of the space
  • The philosophy of the library has shifted from a central teaching position to learning spaces which are more flexible.
  • Small groups of students congregate in the space near the window as it is a pleasant place on a sunny day.

There are several reasons why the space might benefit from some thinking on its design. Firstly, the purpose of my changes is not simply to make a more aesthetically pleasing space, rather it is to re-think the use and purpose of the space, which may in turn lead to some change existing practice in how it is used.  Secondly, the design process is ‘human-centred’ (Brown p. 14) rather than technology-driven.  Paul Bennett in his TED talk also stresses the need to look ‘from the person out.’ In this case, the planned changes have been based on the observed behaviour of my students.

Thirdly, design plays an important role when considering learning spaces. Phillip Starke points out that design represents ‘the possibility to invent a new story’, which will  assist us to design ever-better spaces for learning. In this case, if learning spaces are to remain flexible and relevant then the design needs to include areas for both collaborative as well as individual learning activities. The nature of the proposed learning in the space will dictate the design.

There are four main planned changes to this problem space:

  • Remaining books removed from shelf and re-located throughout the library.
  • Removal of the shelf to open up the space.
  • Moving the interactive whiteboard into the space originally occupied by the shelf so that the sun-glare will be removed. This will also re-locate the interactive whiteboard to the position so that it is no longer the focus of the teaching space and will be able to be used more flexibly for small groups rather than being the central focus of the learning space.
  • Adding ottomans and small table so that the corner will become a nook for individual and small group learning activities.

Of course, as stated by Brown, design is an ‘exploratory process’, (p. 16) not a linear process and the space will be closely monitored to judge its effectiveness.

REFERENCES

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness.

TEDGlobal – Tim Brown (2009). Designers – think big!. [Online Video]. Jul 2009. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big. [Accessed: 20 July 2014].

TEDGlobal – Philippe Starke ( 2007).  Design and Destiny [Online Video]. Mar 2007. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design [Accessed: 20 July 2014]

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6 thoughts on “Blog Task 1

  1. Margo- it sounds like you have a good handle on this space and the fact that it’s not serving it’s purpose currently. It’s exciting that this space does have a lot of potential. Before I read all the way through and realized that the shelves were going to be removed, I was going to say that you should consider asking the students to fill the shelves with whatever they want. When I was in elementary school many many years ago, my librarian told my class that we had an empty space to fill, and we had to collaborate to come up with the best way to fill that space to represent our class. It was a fun and really engaging activity. However, my second thought is perhaps you can have the students decorate the walls, using art or whatever motivates and inspires them. It makes it a lot more interactive and helps to give them entitlement to that space. After all, design thinking is all about the user, perhaps it’s best to ask them directly!
    Wonderful work Margo!
    Shannon

  2. I too have students who gravitate towards corners! I have been through a similar process of trying to make these corners into useable spaces, mostly small changes, most recently some laptop supports, which have been really well used.(http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/50278241/)
    I really have found these small changes require the iterative process that Kuratco, Goldsworthy and Hornsby (2012) talked about. I keep watching the students use these spaces and going back to make small changes!

    I really love that you are removing the focus of the space away from the IWB in response to the culture of learning in your school. I agree that there is much less call for teacher directed work in our library learning spaces.
    I will follow your bog with interest as it sounds like we are on a similar and very steep learning curve!

    Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf

  3. Hi Margo, it sounds like you have identified some key issues to resolve in your space and I like that you have observed the student behaviour to establish what is needed along with your vision for new possibilities. As a non-library teacher, I am so impressed with ideas such as yours to establish communal, collaborative, welcoming spaces. What a long way things have come since the silent and intimidating libraries of my childhood!

  4. Hello Margo 😀

    Thanks for the interesting reflections. I was picturing it in my head as I read through it!

    I think there is a lot to be said of your final statements in this post. That this kind of thinking and trialling is not linear – you try a bit of this and a bit of that, judge how it’s gone, get some feedback, and then try to make it a bit better. It’s an iterative process. You don’t have to “boil the ocean” (I love that saying!) by wanting to change everything, but take small steps.

    You mention moving the interactive whiteboard to another space to reduce glare. I’m just wondering if you need not attach it to a wall, but could use some kind of moveable mounting, perhaps with wheels on it, so it could be used even more flexibly? Just thinking out loud here!

    Matt.

  5. Margo, really enjoyed your post – can identify with so many of your descriptions e.g. students gravitating into spaces. I have had our IWB relocated to a classroom and now have 2 Apple TVs + TVs in the library. Observing behaviours and involving the student stakeholders is valuable. You have embarked on a thoughtful design process – as described by Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012, p. 120 … “willing to go back and play with possible ways to work the feedback…”
    Patricia

  6. Thanks for sharing your changes – I can feel the back ache from here! I wonder if, in the past couple of weeks you’ve had a chance to notice any impact of these changes? It’d be great to have an update.

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