Too Big To Know


Click the animation to open the full version (via PennyStocks.la).

If you didn’t already get it, this animated image really shows you – David Weinberger really was correct (Weinberger, 2011). Those of you who studied with me in INF530 might remember that I was not a fan of his “Too Big to Know “, and yet I keep acknowledging that his thesis in relation to the amount of data out there is accurate – he just pushed the point too much. How can we, as educators, hope to keep abreast of such massiveness as this animation indicates?

This graphic, as much of any of the reading we have been undertaking, proves to me that the days of sage on the stage should be declared gone. There is even a point where groups within classrooms should not consider one person in that group the only guide on the side. We really need to think of classes as collections of learners gathered together for a common purpose – to learn more about whatever the content is deemed to be at a given point in time.

Jackie Gerstein

(Gerstein, The Other 21st Century Skills: Educator Self-Assessment, 2015)

The next sentence is not intended to diminish Jackie’s work. She provides us with many wonderful graphics such as this one on her blog, but the image above, and others like it, are focused on the teacher, what they establish,  and the various ICT tools and concepts to which they expose their students. It’s time to look at such constructs from a learning perspective, where the students are co-creators of the program (as far as mandated curriculum allows) and everyone shares the leadership and the solutions – which can be many and varied.

Here are two examples of student work (VCE History Revolutions) where building blocks were placed in the room in two piles with whiteboard markers nearby. Excitement came first, then question: – what do we do with them? Answer: what are we studying at the moment? Statement: let’s make timelines of our learning so far. Only imposition: write on one side of the blocks only (aiming for brief summary). Once the timeline was made, the suggestion was to change the order of  the blocks – ranking by importance.

 

Note the rows of small blocks deemed more significant than some of the bigger blocks

Note the rows of small blocks deemed more significant than some of the bigger blocks

 

this group used all their blocks

this group used all their blocks

Last year I had the amazing experience of working with a class where the students got the whole “sharing concept” and where the students taught me many things while I exposed  them to the VCE History Revolutions course. I blogged about the type of activities we did here: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/08/13/designing-thinking-tasks/ . I had taught many of these students in Year 9 (see https://9hist2012.wordpress.com/) and the learning from that experience had lived on.

QR codes in Historyy

In typically frustrating fashion, the class I have this year, a small group of 4 boys, 3 of whom were part of the same Year 9 cohort, won’t give any of these kinds of activities a go. I guess this is part and parcel of educating in a time of significant change. What do you think?

For my artefact for this subject I hope to create a film clip that will encourage my colleagues to have a go at connecting, collaborating and co-learning. Next year all our students will have a device in their hands, so, no doubt our school will be contributing to the data shown by Penny Stock in the graphic at the top of this page. With some judicious planning the data may also contribute knowledge to the wider learning community that is now accessible to most people on earth.

References

Gerstein, J. (2015, January 2015). The Other 21st Century Skills: Educator Self-Assessment. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from User Generated Education: https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-other-21st-century-skills-educator-self-assessment/

Penny Stocks. (n.d.). The Internet in Real-Time: How Quickly Data is Generated. Retrieved from Penny Stocks: http://pennystocks.la/internet-in-real-time/

Simkin, M. (2012). Retrieved from My Learning Journey: https://9hist2012.wordpress.com/

Simkin, M. (2014, August 13). Designing Thinking Tasks. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/?p=158

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too Big To Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That The Facts Aren’t Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, And The Smartest Person In The Room Is The Room. New York: Basic Books.

 

 

 

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Using a Design Process to Effect a Change

The Senior Campus “Reference area” (see left of map below) is not serving the purpose of enhancing learning. It needs to cater for multiple groups ranging from Year 6 (11 year olds) to Year 12 (18 year olds) simultaneously in any school day. It is currently very traditional in layout, partly due to elderly infrastructure.

Floor Plan c.2011

The challenges of design in all its breadth are outlined in the introductory video for this course (MacIntosh, 2014):

The joys of considering future possibilities allows a broad range of potentially transformational divergent thinking (Brown, 2009) in stark contrast to the frustrations of the real-world limitations.

The space highlighted in this post is far too small for current needs, and the building was constructed well before the Internet. Capacity to fulfil current needs falls well short of requirements.

Future needs for such a space at our school have already been considered here: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/07/30/2013-submission-to-the-strategic-planning-architect-for-the-next-series-of-capital-planning/ .

An immediate need arises due to recent and impending changes to resource provision. These are summarised in the image below:

 
The issues surrounding our Reference space.

 

 

The issues surrounding our Reference space.

The challenge posed in Design and Destiny is to raise the angle at which the world is viewed, and use the resulting observations to create beauty within reason and invent a new story (Starck, 2007).  Most working in this area acknowledge multidisciplinary teams as providing the best outcomes, both in terms of the ideation process, but also in terms of producing an innovative result that is collectively owned and for which all are responsible (Brown, 2009, p. 28) . Such development also allows for greater divergence in the brainstorming phase (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 21).

The process for changing this space commenced with a consideration of the various needs presented in relation to the physical constraints and in terms of improving teaching and learning outcomes. The brainstorming identified a number of potential solutions and there is the potential for immediate improvement, as well as a more futuristic scenario in the result envisaged.

As with any transformation that requires physical relocation of objects, the importance of working through a design process is critical for three reasons:

  1. Allowing for full consideration of the needs and the effects of the possible solutions
  2. Moving heavy furniture or removing fixtures involves other  people’s time
  3. Educational budgets are always limited

When some administrators are questioning the need to have a school library in the future, success is critical.

The changes:

Move most of the Reference books either into general non-fiction or onto different shelving. Move the current Reference shelving to the Reading Area to house Biography.  This will open up the floor space in the reference area and add display space to the reading area, which making Biographies easier to find. Spinners currently housing Biographies to be dotted through the Reference space and contain encyclopedias. Status – in train and awaiting workmen.

Purchase some alternative seating to allow for different groupings. Status – commenced with purchase of 6 “ghost stools” from Aldi.

Move current table layout into a variety of layouts across the wider space. Status – awaiting workmen.

Set up mini maker space near available power point – where the magazines are now sited. Status – as above.

References

Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Collins.

MacIntosh, E. (2014, July 2014). Introduction To Designing Spaces For Learning. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf0yI6zPvnA

Seidel, V., & Fixson, S. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking In Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33.

Starck, P. (2007, March). Design and Destiny. Philippe Starck Thinks Deep On Design. Retrieved July 5, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design

I have added a comment to

  1. Matt’s blog at http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mattives/2014/07/29/designing-spaces-for-learning/#comment-17
  2. Greg’s blog at http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/leadinglearning/2014/07/29/that-problem-space/#comment-15
  3. Yvette’s blog at http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2014/07/30/assessment-1/#comment-2

 

 

 

2013 Submission to the strategic planning architect for the next series of capital planning.

With great excitement I responded to the Principal’s request to make contact with the architect and indicate the Information Services needs for the future.

This is what I wrote (minus a few specific details):

October 2013

It is very difficult to predict the exact nature of school libraries in the future.  Even in as short a time frame as five to ten years, it is hard to know what types of resources will be required. While books may not be part of the landscape, other educational resources will replace them. Certain functions will, therefore, be ongoing, and that is the premise on which I have based this outline.

Geographically, the ideal location for an Information Services centre is central for ease of access for all the learning community. The location of the current libraries on both campuses is therefore less than ideal.  At the Senior Campus, it will be even worse from the middle of 2014, when the MYPEC opens.

Philosophically a school library underpins the curriculum of all year levels, and should cater to their diverse needs in the broadest sense. Diverse uses are currently made of both libraries, and this will (and should) be an underlying premise for future planning.

Functional requirements:

A school library in an academically focussed college such as ours needs to cater for all students and teachers serviced by the campus. There are multiple demands, some of which are conflicting. As an example of such divergence, places where students can work quietly for sustained reading or studying, and places where lively educational debate can occur.

To this end a renewed Alexandra Library building would need to:

  • Cater for students from Year 6 to Year 12.
  • Cater for individuals, as well as potentially simultaneous classes of up to 25 students in size.
  • Allow line of sight supervision from offices, preferably throughout the entire building
  • Provide flexible spaces for most of the building
  • Be fully cabled to allow the best power and technology solutions for the time
  • Support learning in all its manifestations as well as streamline work flow for those functioning within the spaces.

See: La Marca, S: Rethink!: Ideas for Inspiring School Library Design, School Library Association for Victoria, Melbourne, 2007

http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Rethink.html?id=qVscGgAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

and the Raeco Lookbook which can be downloaded free here: http://www.raeco.com.au/custompage.aspx?custompage=Lookbook

Space requirements:

Large spaces:

  • With seating and tables to suit whole classes of up to 25 students (formal) engaged in class type activities and need the same provision as classrooms, but with added access to shared resources that single classrooms cannot accommodate
  • With comfortable furniture adaptable to whole class silent sustained reading, and individual leisure reading at recess and lunchtime
  • Equipped as a “maker space” fitted out with tables large enough to construct robotics and the like and fitted out with storage to contain the products and parts required.

See:

http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/sylvia-martinez-and-maker-movement.html

Medium spaces:

  • For medium sized classes of either type described above.
  • For engaging in round table debating
  • For teleconferencing; professional learning activities and tutorials
  • Careers advice and research – requiring a combination of formal and informal space with storage, display space, connectivity and adjoining staff office (separate external door an advantage)
  • Office space for Library services (requiring neat and tidy storage, enabling workflow, with reachable sections for different types of resources). This needs to allow for collaborative meetings between teacher-librarian and teachers, either within the office or in a separate meeting room.
  • An AV/ recording space sound proof for  podcasting, vodcasting, and film production
  • A news room (soundproof) to run ABC News24 and allow reading of current affairs magazines and digital news. Many schools have this set up as a space where coffee can be enjoyed as part of the process.

See: Learning for the future: developing information services in schools (Second edition) Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association, 2001 This publication provides a detailed outline of space requirements for traditional library type activities on page 45:

        Enrolment    301-400 (Senior Campus) 378 square metres minimum

This is further broken down into size allocations for various uses.  I can provide further details if that would be helpful.

Smaller spaces:

  • Other staff offices disbursed throughout the entire space for ease of supervision. Depending on the envisaged use of the space this would include the IT Specialist Teacher office and could include the Head of Senior Years/Head of Year 12
  • Several Cubicles fitted out for  online testing but big enough to be used as study carrels if required for example by students undertaking  Distance Ed &  Languages Other Than English

Other Important considerations:

  1. Computers:  There will continue to be a need for high end computers for teachers and students to use for tasks that require either larger screens or significant RAM.  There would need to be enough overall to meet the needs of more than one class of students at a time and also to cater for drop in printing, or polishing of work, or students who have issues with their individual device.
  2. Shelving and furniture in the main body of the building should allow for easy mobility to cater for different or changing needs.

Award winning school libraries include:

Bialik College http://www.bialik.vic.edu.au/facilities/libraries/

429 Auburn Road
East Hawthorn, Victoria, 3123

Aquinas College http://www.aquinas.vic.edu.au/web/index.cfm?pid=About.Facilities#arc

46 Great Ryrie St
Ringwood, Victoria, 3134

These are both very different in appearance but provide an interesting perspective on possibilities.

A renewed Handbury Library building would need to:

  • Cater for students from ELC to Year 5.
  • Cater for individuals, as well as potentially classes of up to 25 students in size. A re-envisioned programme may allow for simultaneous classes with two class teachers and one teacher-librarian functioning in the same space.
  • Allow line of sight supervision from a lockable office
  • Provide flexible spaces for most of the building
  • Be fully cabled to allow the best power and technology solutions for the time
  • Support learning in all its manifestations as well as streamline work flow for those functioning within the spaces.

Space requirements:

Large spaces:

  • With seating and tables to suit whole classes of up to 25 students (formal) engaged in class type activities and need the same provision as classrooms, but with added access to shared resources that single classrooms cannot accommodate
  • With comfortable furniture adaptable to whole class silent sustained reading, and individual leisure reading at recess and lunchtime
  • Equipped as a “maker space” fitted out with tables large enough to construct robotics and the like and fitted out with storage to contain the products and parts required.  This cloud be done in the main body of the library if lockable storage solutions were provided
  • A number of high end desk top computers (assuming all students have an individual device of some sort in their hands) for reasons outlined above. There would be less demand for these at the Junior Campus.

Medium space:

  • Office space for Library services (requiring neat and tidy storage, enabling workflow, with reachable sections for different types of resources). This needs to allow for collaborative meetings between teacher-librarian and teachers, either within the office or in a separate meeting room.
  • An AV/ recording space sound proof for  podcasting, vodcasting, and film production

See: Learning for the future: developing information services in schools (Second edition) Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association, 2001 This publication provides a detailed outline of space requirements for traditional library type activities on page 45:

        Enrolment 101-200 (Junior Campus) 156 square metres minimum

This is further broken down into size allocations for various uses.

I can provide further details and information if that would be helpful.

Module 1.1

Image

Ideas fizzing around like bubbles in a fast running stream

Ideas fizzing around like bubbles in a fast running stream

The first part of Module 1 is appropriately titled “The Challenges”. I knew this subject would be engaging, inspiring and potentially make my brain spin – but I may have underestimated the effects.

The readings and subject notes raise a number of issues, and require a substantial amount of brain processing time, hence the time taken between setting up the blog for INF536 and now.

Considering the concepts of posture, surface, ambience and density (Witthoft & Doorley, 2011), in conjunction with the physical and budgetary constraints in which we operate, has been both uplifting and frustrating. The excitement of thinking about vertical surfaces in addition to horizontal, and a broad range of seating, standing room, group and individual space has led to much re-evaluation of what is possible.

The jump from reading about the variety of challenges, while still working on understanding the definitions, to a practical application, was not as difficult as I first thought it would be. It also gave me an opportunity to present an issue to the Library team (and an English teacher who fortuitously walked in during the action) and involve them in some of the processes which have formed part of our reading investigations.

In this case the first stage, the needfinding stage, (Seidel & Fixson, 2013) found us, rather than us designing or brainstorming to define a need. The brainstorming occurred in parallel with the prototyping, and the time allowed was defined in that we had a spare half hour between meetings and required a solution for the next day.

The space before our solution was implemented looked like this and offered 21 seats including the one usually occupied by the teacher: (it’s the one with the arms on the far left).

This is how the reading area has traditionally appeared.

This is how the reading area has traditionally appeared.

This is how the reading area has traditionally appeared.

The process we followed was:

A diagram showing the design thinking process.

A diagram showing the design thinking process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end result was this:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 
Cosier and also able to be shared by more groups at recess or lunch

Cosier and also able to be shared by more groups at recess or lunch

The result has been well received by almost everyone, with the most enthusiastic being the students (even the older students who can be conservative about changes to their space!). As each class has come in for a lesson, the seats in the middle of the space have been first occupied. There has only been one negative comment, from a Mathematics teacher who was taking a reading class for an absent teacher. He thought the students had been messing things up! He condoned the change once I explained that we had done it and why.

The dangerous thing is that we are now looking to move some other items around – and for those we will need the workmen!

References

Seidel, V., &   Fixson, S. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking In Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal   Of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33.

Witthoft, S.,   & Doorley, S. (2011, November 7). Cultivating innovative behavior using   design. TEDxManhattanBeach. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqjXs0fNxYQ

Acknowledgements:

Photographs are my own with the exception of the “before photo” which has been copied from The College website: www.hamiltoncollege.vic.edu.au and was taken by our official photographer, Liz Crothers.