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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