Assignment 6 Part B:Critical Reflection INF536

The commencement of this subject ‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ correlated with opportunities at my workspace to put my design thinking skills to the test.  My Leadership team at my school were noticing that I had valuable insights to share and I was ready to join them on a design process to design some new physical spaces in the school.

Personally I have learnt the value of observing environments and people to make better choices and decisions. I appreciate good service, functional spaces and the value of listening to users.

The nature of the Blog tasks encouraged me to realise the potential in changing the learning spaces to encourage collaboration, creativeness and newness.

Very early in the semester after reading Kuratko’s The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration: transforming organizational thinking.(2012) I began to recognise the value in collaboration, involving stakeholders in decision making  and developing a common language  abut design.  In preparation for initial talks about our school’s new Library design I developed a Flickr page where all stakeholders could add and observe images of Libraries they liked. I also helped transform and guide their thinking by sharing the principles from Kuratko (2012) and Brown (2009). What eventuated were  new, varied and many ideas! My library assistant even came up with a complete design and was included in the discussions with the leadership team and architect. This was a great example of participatory design (Woolner, 2009).

Following on from this positive experience I then began to frame my ideas for learning spaces in a more defined manner. My first attempt was to write a design brief for the new library using Kurtako’s (2012) recommendations as a guideline. The next design brief I wrote was for the entrance of our school (Blog task 3): for the first time ever I used Stanford d.school’s How might we?… Method.  This simple change in framing the design brief really allowed be to come up with new ideas and contemplate the unknowns (Hatchuel,2004).

I have come to realise, partly through recently completing the Case Study on changes that have happened in our digital learning space that I can use my understanding of the design process, design thinking approaches, creative culture and the importance of recognising the influences and interactions of learning pedagogy, space and technology (Wilson & Randall, 2012) to reflect on past practices and make better decisions during future design projects.

Digital design is an aspect of education where I can see a lot of potential for innovation. The different online spaces like  McIntosh’s (2010)‘Seven Spaces’ , Thornburg’s(2014)campfires, watering holes, caves, life spaces and then Runnquist’s(2011) mountain-top spaces  has helped me identify new ideas that are yet to be integrated in our developing online spaces.

I feel more motivated now to facilitate a creative culture in my educational organisation and beyond. I know I am able to facilitate conversations about creative culture after a successful creative coffee morning. I do notice sometimes that the ’Status Quo’ and pragmatism  in education organisations can challenge one’s ability to be creative when changing learning spaces, but I think that a better understanding of approaches like design thinking will help me contribute to transforming the future schools that I work in and have an impact on student’s learning.

References

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organisations. Harper Business.

D.school, Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HMW-METHODCARD.pdf Accessed March 1, 2014

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.http://www.designsociety.org/download-publication/19760/c-k_theory_in_practice_lessons_from_industrial_applications

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in Innovation accerlation: transforming organisational thinking. Boston: Pearson.

McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks and Bricks: How Schools Buiidlings Influence Future Practice and Technology Adoption. Educational Facility Planner, Volume 45, Issues 1 & 2.

Runnquist, A. (2011). Learning envrionments based on learning. Retrieved October 2014, from Vittrabloggen: http://vittrabloggen.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/vittra-telefonplan-environments-based-on-learning/

Thornburg, D. D. (2014, March). From the Campfire to the Holodeck, How Place Matters in Education. Retrieved October 2014, from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1cAQREVls

Wilson, G., & Randall, M. (2012). The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: a pilot study. Research in Learning Technology, Vol.20.

Woolner, P. (2009). Building schools for the future through participatory design process: exploring the issues and investigating ways forward. BERA 2009. Manchester.

Digital Space comparisons

A number of posts on this blog have discussed the evolution of the digital spaces at the school I teach at.

This is a picture of the ‘CommonPlace’ LMS and digital space which is our school’s current intranet.

CommonPlace

Figure 1: ‘CommonPlace’ student workspaces

Common place 2

Figure 2: A student workspace in ‘CommonPlace’

The next group of images are of sites developed on ‘Remodel’ to facilitate a flipped classroom, collaborative learning and strong feedback focused teaching and learning pedagogy.

science space  video

Figure 3: A video for students to watch for homework on ‘Remodel’

science space link

Figure 4: A link to online curated content from the school Library in a ‘Remodel’ workspace.

science space

Figure 5: Information about a subject’s content for the term in ‘Remodel’.

science space

Figure 6: The front page of a Science unit with an outline of the activities to be expected in ‘Remodel’.

As can be seen ‘Remodel’ has allowed the teachers to produce much more dynamic digital learning environments.

Pedagaogy, Space and Technology; a wonderful combination

Optimal educational learning spaces require pedagogy, space and technology to  enhance, use and support each other.  Below is a diagram that I have found helpful in illustrating how pedagogy, space and technology work together in learning spaces.

pedagogy, space and technology 2 radcliffe The PST Framework (adapted from Radcliffe, 2009, as cited by Wilson, G. and Randall,M.,2011)

Interestingly I found another version of Radcliffe’s framework on the Journal of Finnish University of Applied Science website(Wikström-Grotell, C.,2013).

PST framework 1

Finland has emerged as the leading OECD country in educational achievement . One key element has effected Finland’s success -excellent teachers using quality pedagogy(Sahlberg,P., 2010). Finnish schools also concentrate on equality, educational attainment , distribution of budgets, high quality and innovative school learning spaces.

Evaluating using this framework could allow  for quality evaluation and focused attention to the key interacting factors of pedagogy, space and technology.

References

*Jetsonen,S., Johansson, E., Nuikkinen, K. & Sahlberg, P. The Best School in the World. Musuem of Finnish Architecture.

*Sahlberg, P. (2010). The Secret to Finland’s Success:Educating Teachers.Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/secret-finland%E2%80%99s-success-educating-teachers.pdf

*Wikström-Grotell, C. (2013). Arcada – A Place For Space. Journal of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, No 1 (2013).  http://www.uasjournal.fi/index.php/uasj/article/view/1442/1367

*Wilson, G., & Randall, M. (2012). The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: a pilot study.Research In Learning Technology, 20(2), 1-17. doi:10.3402/rlt.v20i0.14431

Reflections on the evolution of a learning space.

I recently sat down with the Network Engineer from the school I work at to discuss the case study for Assignment 6. For five years now we have worked as part of the same team; we have shared ideas, helped solve problems (he usually solves more problems for me than I do for him), encouraged each other, provided feedback, learned new things and had fun together along the way. It has become evident too to surround ourselves with other like minded and entrepreneurial  members of our schools community (mainly teaching staff). The Leadership team have also begun to recognise the value of collaboration in the design process.We don’t often though put time aside just to reflect on the development of our learning spaces; we did for an hour a few days ago and it was ‘gold’.

The school’s digital learning environment has been developing for over ten years now. I have worked at the school for five years but the Network Engineer has been there right from the beginning of this evolution. He has an IT background and qualifications, but after working in an educational environment for so long he has a very good insight into learning, learning environments, the integration of technology and  it’s users.

The  following are my notes from our discussion. The names of the LMS have been changed for the purpose of this case study.

It seems that we have done a  a bit of a full cycle in the development of our Learning Management System (LMS).  Back in 2003 the school’s first digital environment was just a static website that the IT team developed.  A need was identified by the Network Engineer (together with the Leadership team) in 2004 to develop a digital platform to deliver information to the school community. The Network Engineer (along with the IT team) wanted to spread the workload of uploading information onto the site and also more staff wanted to use the environment. A number  of options were considered for this first intranet. The educational organisation that directs the school’s operations had no input into the choices that was made for the original LMS.

The first edition of ‘Remodel’ was considered in 2004, but it was evaluated as being too hard to use and cumbersome. Eventually the IT and Leadership teams choose ‘CommonPlace’ because was manageable, stable, easy to maintain, cheap and effective in delivering information. ‘CommonPlace’ also suited the growth factors of the school: the developers wanted to be able to add subject tabs and work-spaces.  ‘CommonPlace’  does include Web 2.0 tools like Blogs, Wikis and Threaded Discussion Forums but these are not easy to set up. When I joined the staff of this team( 2010) I had been using Web 2.0 tools successfully in online study,saw value in them and wanted to integrate them into the teaching and learning of the school community. A couple of staff were already doing this but most had not and were hesitant to do so.  The Network Engineer made a surprising comment that he doesn’t really like Web 2.0 tools (maybe as ‘CommonPlace presented them) – that they are messy : is this the nature of learning  and knowledge construction though, a little chaotic?

The Library team and I developed our Library webpage and linked it on to the LMS; this is an ongoing project where I feel we have not met our potential and it is a future goal to improve the Library digital space.

Over 2012 and 2013 a need for a more online classroom environment has been identified.  Some alternative LMS ‘Alive’ and ‘iSpace’ were added as links on ‘CommonPlace’. ‘Alive’ was mandated by the educational organisation. After discussion amongst the IT team, leadership and ICLT committee it was decided that we didn’t want to use ‘Alive’ because it was hard to use, the organisation of the site wasn’t satisfactory and it was better suited to Primary schools. The educational organisation have also ceased to encourage ‘Alive’s’ use, but it remains as a  unused link on the LMS as mandated by the educational organisation.  ‘iSpace’ too was mandated with the direction of the educational organisation, but it has had limited use too. So currently on ‘CommonPlace’  there sits a number of links and choices of alternative LMS that aren’t really being used. The past practice was to add the links early in the prototyping process and then train people to use them (access was sometimes limited to certain staff teams and students); this practice did not prove successful with ‘Alive’ and ‘iSpace’ learning spaces.

A lack of time for training, testing, and  a common language have been identified as barriers to the development of this learning environment. There is a huge variance too amongst staff (and students’) skills, attitudes and motivation.

However,this year motivations have become  more consistency high and attitudes are positive  in our school community to make our own choice and develop a online learning environment that works in with, directs and compliments the high quality teaching and learning that is happening in the classrooms.  We have come back to the LMS ‘Remodel’ which itself has been through developments and numerous editions. A link to ‘Remodel’ has not been placed on ‘CommonPlace’; instead select teachers have approached the IT team or been approached to use  ‘Remodel’ as a digital learning environment to complement and facilitate their good teaching and learning pedagogy and practice. Leadership teams have also been a positive driver in this focus and process.  ‘Remodel’ has been trialed and tested in a controlled but inclusive and participatory manner. This design process has been a very good example of ‘participatory design’ as it has been human-centred (Sanders, E., 2007).

Many positive aspects of this latest edition of ‘Remodel’ have been identified, like the opportunities and ease to allow for; personalisation, feedback, sequencing of learning activities, multimedia, engagement of students. These positive aspects of ‘Remodel’ match John Hattie’s principles of learning (2013).

The Network and Engineer and I also spent some time discussing the nature of  the ‘Status Quo’  approach versus ‘Experimental Spaces’.  ‘CommomPlace’ was initially chosen because it fitted with the way that the school was organised; departmentalised and structured. Attempts to use technology differently or organise learning environments in transdisciplinary ways is prevented by roadblocks like assessment strategies, timetabling,  pragmatic attitudes. It is through the efforts of the Network Engineer, the IT team and leading teachers that we are slowing challenging some of these ‘Status Quo’ assumptions.

At the end of this discussion we concluded that technology is not necessarily making our life easier as educators.We are a one to one laptop school and both the network Engineer and I had witnessed a culture where the students expect to use their laptop every day and nearly every lesson. Parents expect that the laptop is used too. Teachers feel an obligation to use the laptops  too; sometimes it seems that they are used too much. A need for more  handwriting and reading physical books is being noticed. Technology and digital learning environments can however greatly enhance and facilitate good teaching practice. We have valued being able to customise our digital learning spaces and have tried to match them to our user needs. The current design process of creating a better learning environment with ‘Remodel’ has benefited from the current trialing and testing phase and practice.

We have come  to appreciate the value of a participatory approach and team work in designing new spaces at our school and I look forward to seeing it continue and improve.

References

  • Hattie, J & Yates G. C. R. (2013). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge.

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of a Digital Space

The ‘School Portal’ of the Secondary College I work at has been going through a continual evolution for ten years now. The evolution of this space which serves both students and staff has reflected the development of educational technology, our understanding of how technology can be integrated, the needs of the teaching staff , and our pedagogical changes.Most big design decisions are based on what is discussed in meetings between staff, including; Leadership, IT teams, ICLT committee, Academic leaders, informal ‘corridor conversations”. Not many formal conversations happen with the students.

This digital space now consists of the original LMS with a few additional LMS linked on to provide choice and to incorporate those programs that have been stipulated by the overriding educational organisation. The IT department led by the Network Engineer have always made an effort to customise this LMS to serve the needs of the school community. They have been receptive to teacher’s ideas.What eventuated was a reasonably functional space that provided a choice of mediocre LMS that were all similar.Sometimes the users struggle to keep up with the changes and hence don’t use the tools.

Over the last ten months a greater focus has been placed on teaching and learning and decisions are being based more on current teaching and learning pedagogies like Hattie’s principles of Visible Learning (2013), the Flipped classroom strategies (Bull,G., Ferster,B. & Kjellstrom, W., 2012) , collaborative and student-led learning. The IT team along with selected and interested teachers have begun a more measured testing and trial of an alternative LMS.  The IT team and leadership has come to realise how important it is to collaborate with an engage the interested and entrepreneurial teachers to try new things out (and develop new designs or prototypes) These recent activities look a lot more like Design Thinking then previous previous decisions and actions regarding our school’s digital learning space.

References

  • Hattie, J & Yates G. C. R. (2013). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge.
  • Bull,G., Ferster,B. & Kjellstrom, W. (2012) Inventing the Flipped Classroom. Learning & Leading with Technology, Vol.40(1), p.10(2).