About mpickworth

My name is Margo Pickworth and I am the Teacher Librarian at Shore Preparatory school, North Sydney.

Critical Reflection

How have my views, knowledge and understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments changed and/or developed?

Critical Reflection

‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ has been a challenging but rewarding time of intense learning. Acknowledging the vital link between ‘learning theory’ and ‘design theory’ has been a key understanding developed throughout the course. The tension between design, space and learning has been  reflected in the wide range of academic readings and TED talks. Practical examples of space changes both on a small and large scale such as the Design Council in UK, MindLab in Denmark and Stanford.d in USA as well as academic theoretical readings such as Razzouk & Shute (2012), Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby (2012) and Brown (2009) have provided a wide perspective on these issues for me as a learner.

In completing the Case Study, skills of critical thinking were needed to further understand the link between physical and digital space and how it influences practice. I am in agreement with Hunt, Huijser and Sankey (2012) who conclude that pedagogy should be the shaping influence. The documentation of leadership in the case study of a new virtual library learning space was timely. It was useful to apply terminology to aspects of the design problem and to acknowledge issues that were occurring as part of the process. Further opportunities to apply these principles to future learning contexts will be pursued.

Blog Post 1 enabled synthesis of thoughts on physical space problems, while Blog Post 2 developed the skills of empathic observation, a wonderful opportunity to step back from my own practice and observe how the space is being used. Empathic observation can play a large part in planning digital and physical space. The feedback from other students in the course following this exercise was extremely valuable. Blog Post 3 recorded the beginning of thoughts on a proposed Case Study, however upon deeper reading, this post became increasingly irrelevant.  The Creative Coffee event provided an opportunity to gather some creative individuals together and to begin to understand the role of design in planning spaces according to their use.

Modules 7 and 8 informed of future and experimental spaces. The ideas of Makerspace and Studio Space will provide plans for pursuing in 2015. It is reassuring to know that the ideas for implementation will be supported by academic research.

Another impact that the course has had is the addition of the social media elements which has enabled perception of new ways of viewing learning. Attempting to make my own thinking visible to others through the forum, as well as reading and responding to others has enabled a deeper understanding of some key concepts. I will continue with confidence, to apply this to my personal learning network.

Finally, throughout the course I have developed further understanding of myself as a learner. I have experienced many of the thinking and affective processes that I have observed in my students. The initial feelings of confusion when faced with new and conflicting information, the grasping of innovative and fresh ideas which are then clarified through discussion and collaboration or searching for a connection with previous knowledge and experiences have all been part of my learning journey. As a lifelong learner, this opportunity has been relished! Thank you Ewan, thank you. Judy.


Brown (2009) Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness. p.37.

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

Kuuskorpi, M. and N. Cabellos González (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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0lkz2d9f2-en

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




Implementation of online library space – constraints

The process of selection, prototyping and ultimately the implementation of the new online library space has been bounded by a range of constraints:

1. Quality learning – our school has embraced ‘Guided inquiry’ approach to learning (Kuhlthau, C, 2013 ) which encourages students to find and use a range of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem, topic or issue. this means that students must have individual access to wide range of suitable resources.  An online library space must fulfil this function.

2. Australian Curriculum – General Capabilities – ICT Capability- An online library space must also fulfil this function (ACARA, 2013)

3. Role of the library- Hay, L (2012) Lonsdale. M (2011) and  Hough, M (2011) all affirm the role of the school library in providing an effective online library space for twenty-first century learning.

I have previously underestimated the connections between selection/modification of an online library system and its impact on learning. It clearly makes sense!


Search for online library space – process

Following my Blog Post #3 my colleagues have suggested that an online booking system benefit my learning space. As I am about to launch our re-vamped online library presence, I will endeavour to ensure that an effective online booking  system is included.

The process of re-designing the online library space has roughly followed the design thinking process as highlighted by Brown, T (2009) in Change by design. He suggests three ‘overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps’ (Brown, p. 16), including: inspiration, ideation and implementation.

It became apparent in 2013 that the current online library space was inadequate and not meeting the learning needs of our students. (Inspiration).

So the search for a more effective system began with brainstorming and investigating alternatives. (Ideation)

Implementation followed a substantial period of prototyping – ie testing of the new system to check its suitability. (Implementation).


Creative Gathering at Graythwaite


A ‘Creative Gathering’  was held on Thursday afternoon 18th September, at ‘Graythwaite’ – the restored heritage house on the grounds of Shore School in Sydney. Attending were the project manager, a lecturer in Fine Arts, retired minister and his wife, library assistant staff and three teachers.

While enjoying afternoon tea, the Project manager explained the process of restoration, including the re-consideration of the space that has changed from a family home to a palliative care home and now to the location of office spaces and reception area.

A heritage architect restored the physical appearance of the building including re-doing the roof tiles and sandstone building blocks, while ‘space consultants’ were used to  re-configure the area of usable space to configure the buildings evolving purpose. A key design feature of the whole project seemed to be the balance of maintaining the integrity of the historic building while matching with contemporary purposes.

A wonderful afternoon!



Comment on Silvana’s Blog.

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Blog Post #3

Design Brief for library learning space for Years 3 – 6 boys, 15th August 2014

In the construction of the Design Brief, I have considered both a ‘mental searchlight’ approach as well as ‘laser intelligence’ approach. (Gardner, 2014). This refers to the necessity of viewing the BIG picture – the role of the library learning space as well as the SMALL picture, focusing on finer details of problems that I have recently observed.

When using the ‘searchlight’ approach the overarching question ‘What should a library learning space for boys aged 8 – 12 years provide?’ is considered.  Following discussions with my interdisciplinary team of school leadership, teachers and students the school library should be a space that is both ‘inspiring’ and ‘neutral’. A space that will allow for:

  • Inspiration and encouragement to engage in learning
  • Flexibility in movement and noise
  • Opportunities to learn either in teams or individually
  • Elements of both a dynamic space as well as elements of predictability/stability
  • A communal shared learning space but also a sense of personal ownership

When using the ‘laser intelligence’ approach, the space was observed and the following problems highlighted:

  • Insufficient space for both incoming and outgoing traffic
  • Need for an uninterrupted quiet area for story reading
  • Difficult access to locked equipment trolleys
  • Difficult location of keys for unlocking of trolleys
  • Inconvenient location of urgently needed Reading Group books
  • Multi-tasking of Teacher Librarian


To deliver effective use of space, personnel and equipment for a range of  learning activities in the library space

Constraints and Considerations:

Using feedback from colleagues the following constraints have been considered:

  • How to prioritize and subsequently address all the tasks which need to dealt with simultaneously at 9.15 on Wednesday morning?
  • Location of a quiet area is problematic when the space is always occupied?
  • Only one staff member is available at this time?
  • Ongoing tension between security of expensive equipment and easier equitable access to the expensive equipment?
  • Entering and exiting are problematic as the TL is also accountable for all resources which need to check in and out?

Next Steps:

Step a. Discuss proposed changes with school community including leadership, classroom, IT staff and students.

Step b. Prepare necessary equipment and plan logistics of online booking system


  • Open both sides of glass door to allow wider exit and entrance
  • Introduce online booking system for trolleys so that I can check what has been booked and have equipment prepared to avoid interruptions
  • Equipment keys with fluro tag in prominent location, allowing students to sign in and out
  • Unlocking equipment trolleys and rolling out to more accessible location before school
  • Placement of a quiet area is problematic – possible moving of trolleys to another location


Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?

Gardner, H. (2004). Audiences for the theory of multiple intelligences. Teachers College Record, 106, 212-220. Glasgow School of Art. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Retrieved from: http://www.gsa.ac.uk/visit-gsa/mackintosh-building-tours/charles-rennie-mackintosh/




Blog Post #2

 For this task I have taken a ‘snapshot’ of time – 9.15 Wednesday morning and observed the events occurring at the Library entrance.

The main events that are occurring simultaneously are:

  • Groups of students working with parents are just finishing their reading group time and are exiting the library through single glass door
  • A class of 25 students are entering the single glass door into the reading area ready for me to begin a story.
  • Another group of students arrived at the circulation desk through the single glass door requesting their new reading books (currently stored upstairs)
  • A further group of students have also arrived to request to roll out the 4 laptop trolleys to their classroom. The laptop trolleys are bolted to the floor at the back of the reading area. The key is located behind the circulation desk.
  • A third smaller group of students have also arrived to take 12 iPads to their classroom. The iPads are also located in a locked charging cabinet at the side of the reading area. They will need to be unlocked and the chargers released.

I hope that my sketch below will provide a graphic illustration of these events!

Library design

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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.


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]

Blog Comments

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Reflection on 2.3 Designing for the unknown

I am struck by the similarities between the writings of Hatchuel, A et al who refer to the necessity of integrating C-Space (Concept Space-  the unknown, the concepts that have yet to be confirmed) with K-Space (Knowledge Space- the known, existing knowledge and experience) in the process of design. Melles, G also refers to the necessity of design thinking to include ‘experiential knowledge making’ and ‘collaborative prototyping’, which appear to be a combination of including the ‘knowns’ (Knowledge) and ‘unknowns’ (Concepts) in the design process. The design brief for the Walker school seems to be an excellent example of this combination. Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College. Dear Architect: The Vision Of Our Future School: Walker Technology College http://www.ournewschool.org/assets/pdf/Dear_Architect.pdf


Reflection on Module 1.2 Does Design Matter?

After reflecting on the content in Module 1.2 I am struck by some common threads:

Deutsch Bank indicates that its starting point for design innovation is ‘human needs’. My assumption here is that they really mean ‘customer needs’. Tim Brown seems to indicate a similar starting point for design, but expands the idea to actually ‘helping people to articulate latent needs they may not even know they have’. He also refers to ’empathy’, which is exactly the instigation for Doug Dietz’z design of the MRI pirate ship – what an amazing design for assisting kids to overcome their fears of entering a MRI machine.

There also appears to be commonality in the three steps of  ‘design thinking’ as suggested by Deutsche Bank and Tim Brown.

  • Problem finding – start with human need or problem
  • Ideation – brainstorming
  • Prototyping

My favourite quote from this section is ‘Fail early to succeed sooner’ (Tim Brown)

References: David Kelly: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence

DeutscheDeutsche Bank:Design thinking for innovation, You Tube

Brown, T  http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big