Assessment 4 Critical Reflection Blog post

What a ride this has been! Almost 14 weeks of intense exploration of design thinking and learning spaces. Over the course of the past semester I have been challenged, stretched and pushed to my limit. Juggling full-time work, family and studies is not for the faint-hearted. My first exposure to design thinking happened a year ago at the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney where the two days was led by members of NoTosh, Tom Barrett and Hamish Currie. It was an eye-opening experience, but nothing like this course, that is now drawing to a close.


Moonshot Statement

My Moonshot Statement from GTA Sydney 2014

From the opening of the course with Phillipe Starck (2007, March), “design is the possibility to invent a new story”; to John Hockenberry (2012, June) saying how important intent is in design. Discovering how important user-centred design is, and the reaffirmation of my thoughts on students wanting to be challenged. Over the weeks I have learnt more about immersion, synthesising, ideation, prototyping and feedback. This design journey is so powerful and I can see new connections/ideas to experiment with in my own learning context.

flickr photo shared by @boetter under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I started with the initial Blog post about a small change in my learning space – Here, and the main focus was on getting the actual users (the students) involved in reimagining the space. The second Blog post – Here, showed the chaotic design of my staff room with all its faults. Both these posts made me realise the power of observation, and especially trying to place myself in someone else’s shoes. This is so powerful in developing a sense of empathy, and it is one of my big takeaways from the course.

My 'War Room' with these new fun Tesla Amazing Magnetic notes

My ‘War Room’ with these new fun Tesla Amazing Magnetic notes

Another area that I really enjoyed was learning about the Coffee mornings, followed by a form of professional learning that I love, TeachMeets. These informal opportunities are a fantastic opportunity for a diverse group of people to share, connect and build relationships. The ‘Seven Spaces of Learning’ discussed in Module six was very interesting and are that I plan on exploring further. Spaces where learning take place are continuously evolving, and it is fascinating seeing the power of technology and new creative ideas transforming learning.


The role of space in learning is important, but it is the actual pedagogy developed with the space in mind that activates the learning. Exploring the readings and videos in this course has shown me some wonderful creative designs and supported a lot of my own thoughts on using student voice in designing learning. The role of multidisciplinary teams in generating ideas, coming up with solutions and being creative is another point to remember.


I have made new contacts through the Forum, Twitter and used Google Hangouts with Jordan Grant on almost a daily basis to discuss and explore the content (especially the week leading up to assessment deadlines). Overall the course has ignited my interest in delving deeper in design thinking and how space impacts learning. I’m looking forward to exploring the work of Ewan McIntosh, Charles Leadbeater, Tim Brown, Stephen Heppell and many others over the coming months. Time to immerse myself in the next phase of learning…



Hockenberry, J. (2012, June). Transcript of ‘We are all designers’. Retrieved from

Starck, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny [Video File]. Retrieved from

Blog Task 2: Observation – The Staffroom Collision

The area selected is my school staffroom, a place where it is getting harder and harder to move around in.
Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 8.38.43 pm
The Staffroom (Sketch by J. du Toit, 2015)
My observations took place during the morning rush around break time, as staff eat lunches and have coffee. Observations included seeing how people interacted with the kitchen area and the seating area (more here: I watched as staff tried to get to the microwaves first, then dodging one another as they try and get coffee made. At the same time staff trying to get their lunches out the fridge, find elusive spoons/forks, and trying to get to a seat as quickly as possible. The seating is very close to one another, makes it difficult to move between. The middles school staff come through, walking a maze to get to their staffroom (This was a new area added this year, the outside area was converted.). Many tables remain empty, and one table very loud (junior school, great conversations taking place).
One of the issues that I’m noticing is that it was redesigned in a similar way as the previous staffroom; (before the move to the new building space and growth in staff numbers). This is an issue that John Hockenberry (2012) mentions in his TED Talk – ‘we cannot keep designing like we did in the past’.  The space needs adjustment, including considering new and creative ideas to better meet the needs of teachers and learners (Brown, 2008).
Time to initiate change…

Online Reflective Journal Blog Task 1

The problem space is located in a room in the library that has been made into a teaching classroom for small senior classes, due to the school growing rapidly and not enough other rooms being available. The room is very generic, with dimensions of only 6m x 5m, 7 tables, 14 chairs. The room has access to a data projector, a whiteboard, one power outlet and two walls that can be used. The third wall has large windows that have a strong glare from sunlight that has no blinds or curtains. The room is shared between three teachers across six different subjects; as well as an IT support room during 1st break. The challenge then is to come up with a space that will be flexible, and at the same time meet the needs of the users (the students and teachers).

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Design is the link between creativity and innovation (Temple, 2010) and this allows ideas to become reality. With design being the process that converts ideas into something tangible (Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G., 2012, p. 103), it becomes crucial to understand the why and how to do design thinking. At the heart of design thinking is the user and this is reflected in many readings. Brown (2009) states that the insight into how people actually use things is central to design thinking, by observing what people actually do, noting what they don’t do, and understanding what they don’t or can’t explain about what they do. Brown (2009) also contends that designers need empathy to consider how consumers (students) actually experience things. Kuratko et al (2012) supports this when they state that design needs to keep the user in mind and include them in the design process to allow immediate feedback. Brown also further adds that ‘We need to learn to put people first’ (2009, p.39).

To discover a new solution using design thinking, it will require that there is a ‘collective ownership of ideas with sharing of responsibility’ (Brown, 2009). With this in mind, I need to involve both myclasses, and my colleagues and their classes, in the discussion/process. This will allow students to also be able to “deal with difficult situations and to solve complex problems in school, in their careers, and in life in general”. (Razzouk, R. & Shute, V., 2012, p.14). Design thinking requires acceptance of constraints and it can actually invigorate designers to come up with solutions (Kuratko et al, 2012). By embracing and recognising the constraints it allows you to explore what is technically feasible and commercially viable (Brown, 2009). At the same time, I need to remember some of the key attributes designers need like flexibility, focus, inspiration, proactive and humility (Kuratko et al, 2012). As design thinking is frequently cited as involving three parts (Seidel & Fixson, 2013) that develop with the constraints of feasibility, viability, desirability (Brown, 2009): Need-finding, Ideation, Prototyping.

To start the change, I will involve the different groups in brainstorming and observing how each class interacts with the space. Then we can proceed to trial a few changes to enhance the learning environment. The great beauty of design thinking is that, as Razzouk & Shute (2012) describe it, it is “an analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype models, gather feedback, and redesign.” The changes will be quickly implemented, and be adjusted as I gather feedback and iterate more.


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. /ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf
Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. /82/4/483.full.pdf+html
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.
Temple, M. (2010). The design council: A review. Department for Business, Industry and Skills (UK). Retrieved from: council-review.pdf
My comments on other posts can be found here:

Connected Potential & Changing Mindsets

The new innovations of the past two decades have created a digitally connected community of learners. Yet, many educators are not embracing the potential they hold and are thus becoming more disconnected with their students and communities. This is part of my own personal aim in this course – to learn new ideas, skills, knowledge and understanding, so that I can support my students, staff and parents in embracing the Digital Age.  Students may be assigned the term ‘Digital Natives’, but many are far from being proficient or aware of their own learning and interactions in the digital world. The reading about Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001) reinforced some of my views on the topic of ‘digital natives’ vs ‘digital immigrants’ perspective. Even though my students are all born in the Digital Age (current Year 12’s born in 1998), many are unskilled in utilising technology as a an effective way to learn, create, connect and communicate.

The concept and practices of the Digital Age is the driving force behind enrolling into the CSU Masters course. The Digital Age is where I’m working, living, learning and interacting in, and thus it is essential as an educator that I’m acutely aware of my own understanding and knowledge of this area. My teaching context involves being the Head of Humanities for an independent Christian College in a regional town in Queensland. The region is one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the state, with some of the highest unemployment figures across all areas of society (a challenge in itself). My role involves teaching Senior Modern & Ancient History, as well as Business Management for Year 11 & 12. Since changing careers from Logistics to Education I have been amazed by the connected world for educators and I love engaging in discussions with educators from all sectors.

There is a digital convergence taking place with regards to media, literacy, communication and sharing of knowledge. The ubiquitous nature of technology is allowing for new practices to emerge and requires new methods of engaging learners to develop. However it does not come down to technological skills alone, but rather the mindset changing amongst educators and students. This is well supported in this image by Reid Wilson on ‘The Profile of a Modern Teacher’:

The Profile of a Modern Teacher by reid Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Another reading I came across was on ‘What is 21st century learning? by Amy Heavin that was published on Fractus Learning:

“What is 21st century learning?

  • It is collaboration.
  • It is creativity.
  • It is critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • It is research and information literacy.
  • It is digital citizenship.
  • It is responsible use.”

Immersion into the developing these skills to connect and share knowledge will become key for educators and students. The ease of access to information and possibilities to share knowledge has resulted in a paradigm shift that needs to be embraced, fostered and utilised to realise its full potential.

The  Connected Learning Research Hub discussed in Module 1.6 really reinforced my beliefs, and challenged me to develop my own thinking further to serve my students.  The infographic I find incredibly powerful, and is a wonderful model of learning in the information age. This leads me into my own goals and challenges with making connections between the different groups, allowing digital tools to be utilised to their potential and developing my own knowledge and understanding through this course.

Connected Learning

Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub (CC BY 3.0)



Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Educators Need to be 21st Century Learners Too… (2014, July 15). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Prensky, M. (2001, 12). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816

Sheninger, E. C. (n.d.). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times.

Wayfaring Path. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from