The problem space in my teaching area is situated in the rear of my classroom. A bench, which lies in front of three windows, houses half a dozen desktop computers. Surrounding the windows is a large pin board, which at present displays Maths reference material. The computer desktops and monitors consume the majority of the bench space leaving very little room to manipulate the mouse. This set up is also ergonomically incorrect as the monitors rest on the desktop and the students are looking up at the monitor rather than straight ahead.
Students today play and learn in a world saturated by technology. Technology is the tool that hooks our students and allows them to take ownership of their learning, knowledge and understanding. We live in a world where we all need to adopt design thinking skills and we need to give our students the opportunity to develop these skills. Educational institutions should encourage students to be independent learners who are eager to collaborate with each other. Yet the environment described above does not allow students the freedom to be creative and engaged in design thinking skills. Design begins with ideas and ideas flourish when we brainstorm. These design skills take time to develop ‘even the simplest appearing skills, such as brainstorming, take months or years of practice before being effective’ (Sutton & Hargon, 1996, p.693).
In the situation with the bench at the back of the classroom, the students are the consumers, and we, as educators, need to move beyond our traditional practices and create a learning environment that is stimulating, inspiring, encourages collegiality, as well as being ergonomic. ‘More recently, designers have begun applying design principles not just to physical products, but also to consumer experiences, to production and interaction processes, and to improvements that make existing products more appealing or functional.’ (Brown, T. 2009, Change by Design, p.2).
This task allowed me the opportunity to look beyond the bench and how the area could better serve the learning needs of the students in the class. My initial reaction was to create more space on the benches to allow students room to work. Often students need working space, which then led me to investigate students’ choice of material when working. All agreed that they felt confident using a product that they could manipulate and write with. The two most popular items listed were mini whiteboards and post-it notes. Given that above the computer monitors are windows, students would be able to record on these using whiteboard markers. Additionally, the notice board surrounding the windows is another obvious area requiring reflection for implementing design-thinking skills.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness.
Sutton, R., & Hargadon, A. (1996). Brainstorming groups in context. Administrative Science Quarterly 41 (4), 685–718.
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Lisa’s Thoughts : http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lisa/2014/07/30/blog-task-1/#comment-7