The End, the struggle, and the journey is only just beginning

It has been quite a journey over the past 3 months both with this subject and personally. I started this journey with GBL in March very excitedly, ready to engage with the subject. I started participating in the forums, wrote a few blog posts, sent a few tweets, stayed on top of modules and readings. My first assessment I managed to deliver a very good critique and I was all set for the second half of the unit.

 

 

As Term 2 started at school I, unfortunately, became extremely ill, and it would seriously affect my ability to function and stay on top of any of my work. To date, I have missed about 12 full school days and had at least 6 half-days, all a result of a blood condition that still has no resolution. This has meant that my blogging, reading, contributing effectively disappeared and I have been just trying to stay afloat. Even though I’m disappointed that I could not engage with the subject as I wanted to, I know that I plan on pursuing GBL with great excitement in the near future. So for my own journey on with this course, I will definitely say that I am intrigued and fascinated by how GBL actually works. This course has opened my eyes and my mind to the complexity of GBL, and the various pedagogical concerns that need to be addressed and how ineffectively it has been integrated into curriculum over the years.

 

My initial Blogpost at the start of the course said: “My own personal belief is that Game Based Learning (GBL) should be part of the whole digital education reform, and that it deserves a place alongside introducing ‘digital literacy’ skills and embedding it in all aspects of the curriculum.” (du Toit, 2017). This course has further solidified this belief for me. Starting out with Gee (2005) and his ideas that good games incorporate ‘good learning principles’ (p.34), and that “challenge and learning are a large part of what makes video games motivating and entertaining”. Then a series of fascinating examples and exploration of games.  The composition of games, how they are structured, created and the complex balance of designing them, was fascinating. The information and cognitive theories that underpin the pedagogical considerations made me realise how much there is to GBL.

 

Although I was hampered by my health, I managed to have regular discussions with Jordan Grant on Google Hangouts, discussing ideas raised in the modules and readings; including interactions on Twitter and playing around with various games. Here’s a screenshot from one of our more recent discussions on the final assessment.

 

My final assessment gave me an opportunity to explore Breakout EDU and how I could use it with my students. Doing the research for that showed me the possibilities in GBL with History classrooms and the potential for rethinking a lot of the content delivery. Revisiting some earlier thoughts and discovering new trains of thought about information fluency has piqued my interest in the pedagogical frameworks required for successful GBL implementation.

 

I was never really a gamer, but I have started to explore it over the past few years since delving into the Playstation world. Overall the course has been extremely interesting and allowed me to start to grapple with the intricacies of GBL. I look forward to seeing how the technology will continue to evolve and be used in education more effectively.

 

References

Du Toit, J. (2017, March 6). INF541 Module 1.1 Online Reflective Journal Blog Task 1 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2017/03/06/assessment-1-inf541-online-reflective-journal-blog-task-1/

 

Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf

Assignment 2: Network literacy evaluative report

PART A: EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

It is incredible how my networked learning experience has developed over the past semester in the INF532 subject and how it has changed over the past few years. The subject required me to create a Thinkspace blog  to show evidence of my development and how I would meet the different course learning objectives. Over the past 14 weeks, I’ve managed to meet the different requirements, even though not always in a timely fashion, but this has been partly the result of opportunities and challenges of being a full-time connected educator. I have completed the majority of the learning activities, explored a range of the digital tools and spaces, and really appreciated the depth of knowledge that was shared in module content.

The key aspect to consider for this evaluative statement is whether or not I have managed to meet the seven learning objectives, particularly the last three:

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-10-54-40-am

The entire course allows coverage of these objectives on multiple occasions through blog posts, Twitter chats, sharing links on Twitter with the hashtag #inf532, Forum discussions, and especially the design and creation of the digital learning artefact in the first assignment. Many of the tools and spaces I have become aware of over the past few years via my own exploration and through my PLN, but there were a few new ones that have been added to my list in a Blog post (du Toit, 2016f) to explore deeper. I also had the opportunity to work with Kelli Hollis, where we collaborated over a Google doc and via Google Hangout to come up with a summary about Module 2 -The Connected Educator (Forum post).

The first assignment required me to use a new digital tool, build an instructional artefact and write an exegesis on it (Access it here (du Toit, 2016a)). This allowed me to demonstrate many of the learning objectives because it required me to investigate, locate and evaluate a range of different tools; then place it into an instructional design format to allow my audience to interact with the information being shared, as well as utilising a PLN.

 

In my opening blog post I explored De Saulles (2012) ‘New models of information production’, looking into how social media has grown exponentially and reflected on the fact that, “As an educator the challenge is making sure students understand the role these sites will play in their lives, but also how they can manage the information they share and receive.” (du Toit, 2016c). This linked in well with the 2nd Blog post on Thomas and Brown’s ‘New culture of learning’ and my own experiences on this new paradigm (du Toit, 2016d). I’ve enjoyed exploring the work of Thomas & Brown these past two years and one of my favourite quotes from them is, “as information is also a networked resource, engaging with information becomes a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world around us” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 47). This is certainly a fact of life for me now as I engage with my PLN and a wider community, creating new global connections.

The Future of Learning, Networked Society’

In the networked age relationships, collaboration and being an active participant will be primary in being connected, and I always focus on the power of connected relationships when speaking to other educators. I delved deeper with the activities on The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall, in my blog post; their point “that teachers must first understand what it means to be a learner within a connected world before they can examine their practice as an educator” (2012) is another key message I shared at a Conference in August. The activities allowed me to reflect and realise that I still need to develop my own skills and knowledge to become a globally connected educator.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-10-28-30-am

Presentation slides from ACHPER Conference

The modules had me revisiting the work of Rheingold, Wenger and Siemens; with a focus on Connectivism, Network literacy, Peer-to-Peer learning, Information curation, and Communities of Practice. I had a few short posts on these sections (du Toit, 2016b & du Toit, 2016e), but look forward to exploring it further. One of the readings that I really connected with was that of Mark Pegrum, as he echoes a lot of my own thoughts with regards to the networked age. Pegrum’s quote, “In a networked age, your influence depends on your degree of connectedness” (2010) is extremely relevant with our own PLN’s, but even more so with educators like George Couros or Will Richardson and their wider influence

 

The case studies were fantastic as I have long been an admirer of the work of Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Shannon Miller; I ended up spending hours exploring their websites, and especially reading Tolisano’s blog. The Global collaborative projects is an area that I’m so interested in, but have yet to get involved in. Reading in the case studies from the Global Educator, especially Michael Graffin’s, has encouraged me to look at how I can become involved. (I’ve even ordered the book here). MOOCs is an area that I’m very familiar with, as I have completed several myself, but also integrated it into my senior business class, where they have completed MOOCs through Coursera and are doing one this Term.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-10-58-19-am

My next Business class MOOC

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-11-00-03-am

Some of my completed MOOC courses

The approaches to online learning were interesting, and I particularly found the video interview of Richard Culatta (2009) insightful. The discussion of Michael Moore’s three interactions for online learners has made me reflect how well the CSU units have done this so far, but also challenged me to redesign my own online classroom. In the past, there has been very little interaction between my classroom students and distance education students, but in Term 4 I have redesigned their unit so that there is collaborative discussions and group assessment task.

I believe through my exploration of the course modules, writing blogs, designing an artefact, critiquing an artefact, conversing on Twitter, further readings and sharing about connected learning at Conferences, I have met the learning objectives of this course and have set further areas to explore.

PART B: REFLECTIVE STATEMENT

In January 2012 I began my journey to become a connected educator after being introduced to Twitter. I started exploring it slowly over the next 18 months, and in August 2013 I discovered my first Twitter chat; #histedchat. These history teachers immediately welcomed me into their community and I finally realised why Twitter could be such a powerful tool. These new connections would set me on the path to becoming a fully connected educator, introducing me to others, new ideas, new platforms and challenging my thinking. Over the next three years, my online PLN would exponentially grow as I shared, conversed and developed my own online voice.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-10-42-48-am

I was introduced to TeachMeets by Matt Esterman, started presenting about Evernote, and then was selected for the Google Teacher Academy in 2014. I started running TeachMeets and Google Educator Group training sessions in the Fraser Coast, to support teachers in my region and help them to become connected. In 2015 I collaboratively presented at EduTECH with Matt Esterman and Simon McKenzie, two PLN friends from the #histedchat community. This showed me the power of being a connected educator and utilising knowledge networks.

cgjnkvtuqaahqjt-jpg-large

EduTECH 2015

 

Google Teacher Academy 2014

Google Teacher Academy 2014

img_9021

GEG Summit Singapore 2016

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

Reflecting on being a connected educator made me re-look at my own blog, where I have reflected and shared over 80 posts these past few years. I can see my initial thoughts, events that shaped my learning and PLN, and how my own connected journey has unfolded.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-12-25-50-pm

Some of the posts that showcase this are:

Becoming a 21st-century teacher

MOOCs & Me

Why do I Blog

EduTECH & TeachMeet Reflections 2014

Twitter Momentum Question

What a journey – Google Teacher Academy 2014

The 28 days of Writing Challenge
2016 has been an incredible year for me as I have had the opportunity to speak at a number of Conferences and utilise a lot of the knowledge gained in this Masters course. I have spoken on teachers professional development that needs to change, connected educators, realising the potential of PLN’s and how to take charge of their connected learning. At the start of this course, INF532, I considered myself a very connected educator. I’m connected on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIN, Blogger, TeachMeets, utilise a range of different technology tools for curation and learning, and I have developed a close group of trusted PLN friends (just a few of them below).

cky8sehuuaaavgw screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-10-52-26-am20140924_171406

My further development as a connected educator because of INF532

I’ll be honest, the majority of concepts were not that new to me in this subject, as I had come across them before over the past few years. However what I did learn, is that I’m most definitely on the right track and it consolidated much of my thinking of being a connected educator. Figuring out how to connect with Forum posts, blogs, discussions and more was a challenge in a period where I was incredibly time-poor. I was away from home eight times over the past four months for educational reasons, travelling to Conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. I came to realise that my workflow and curation has not been done well this semester, and I can see some issues in my process, and the readings made me become more acutely aware of this. I will definitely be referring to Good’s article on Content curation tools: 21 criteria to select and evaluate your ideal one (2014) and look into Rosenbaum’s book, Curation Nation.

I have developed my thoughts on instructional design for online learners, and the course has opened my eyes to how I could design my content differently to connect with online learners. I realise that it needs to be designed so that there is interaction, collaboration, dialogue and social nature to the learning. I need to consider the point by Davidson and Goldberg (2010) that networked learning “operates on the logic of participation, expecting interaction, correcting through exchange, [thus] deepening knowledge through extended engagement” (p. 189). And this I want to make central to designing my educational experiences for my students.
Even though I considered myself as being very connected, I had not given enough thought on the tools to manage and maintain my connectedness. My reliance on twitter and Facebook as my main PLN tools is lacking, and the course showed me new ways to improve in this area.

Implications for my future as a ‘connected leader’

The one thing that I came to realise this year is this point by Eric Mazur he made at EduTECH (2016),” The more of an expert you become in any field, the more difficult it is to understand the struggles of first-time learners”. Being a connected educator is who I am now, but there are still many that have no idea about the importance and opportunities that connectedness brings. We need to mindful of the fact that people are only now discovering connectedness now, and for many, it is a new world and we need to be able to support them.

master-learners-willrich45

I’m a connected leader in my school and I have looked at how I can play a leading role with TeachMeets, Tech training sessions, GEG events and sharing resources. As I keep on developing my role as a connected leader in education I have set my sights on how we can connect teachers across the whole of Queensland with TeachMeets. This is already starting to take shape with creating the Twitter account and being part of the QLD TeachMeet Facebook Admin. My next step is to invest some more time into this, but to have more educators on board in developing TeachMeet QLD.

teachmeetqld-ap

As a connected leader, I want to be part of the discussions at my school on integrating digital citizenship and 21st-century skills into all aspects of the College. Unfortunately, the school is only looking at this type of role at the end of 2018, but I hope to convince them of the urgency of the importance of being connected learners in a global world and how we need to be focusing on it now. One of my passions is working with teachers and students in helping them develop their digital literacy and understanding the pedagogy behind using technology in the classroom for learning. As a connected leader, I want to be able to support them, assist with coaching and open up their worlds to the endless possibilities of a knowledge networking through being connected. Through this, I want to be able to explore how I can become a global educator by connecting my students and teachers to other countries, groups and organisations. It is time to take my connected world and move it towards a globally connected world to serve the learning of my students.

 

Being a ‘Connected Educator’ is an endless journey where learning, growth, opportunities, friendships and life-changing experiences will always create new network paths to explore.

Down the rabbit hole we go…..

6ba96a33a9f61ae249b696c862d69683

REFERENCES

Culatta, R. (2009). Designing online learning. YouTube. Retrieved April 29, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv-_GCFdLdo

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2010). Ch 7. (ln)Conclusive: Thinking the future of digital thinking. In Future of thinking: Learning institutions in a digital age (pp. 175-199). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/free_download/9780262513746_Future_of_Thinking.pdf

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: new models of information production, distribution and consumption(pp. 13-35). London: Facet.

Du Toit, J. (2016a, September 20). Digital artefact & exegesis [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/09/20/digital-artefact-exegesis/

Du Toit, J. (2016b, October 5). Establish a knowledge network Title [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/10/05/establish-a-knowledge-network/

Du Toit, J. (2016c, July 19). INF532 Module 1.2 Reflection [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/07/19/inf532-module-1-2-reflection/

Du Toit, J. (2016d, July 18). INF532 Read & Reflect Module 1.1 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/07/18/inf532-read-reflect-module-1-1/

Du Toit, J. (2016e, October 5). Network Literacy [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/10/05/network-literacy/

Du Toit, J. (2016f, September 22). The 6 Digital tools to experiment with Reflection [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/09/22/the-6-digital-tools-to-experiment-with-reflection/

Ericsson. (2012, October 19). The Future of Learning, Networked Society [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/quydkud4dmu?list=plrkedff8mneyjgj4mivjzsfgcobqrdbty

Good, R. (2014) Content curation tools: 21 criteria to select and evaluate your ideal one. Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/content-curation-tools-selection-criteria-to-evaluate/

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Mazur, E. (2016). Rethinking Assessment Keynote. EduTECH 2015, Brisbane, Australia.

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change, Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Conference Presentation Slides

I spoke at a Conference in August on the topic of being 21st-century learners; focused on PLN’s and connecting. It was part of the learning process in seeing the power of being a networked teacher, new challenges and opportunities.  Have a look and please feel free to use any of the slides.

 

Establish a knowledge network

Blog Task
In the video clip Shirky states:
“the hybridisation of the network and the real world is changing the way that educators and their students deal with one another and there is no way things have always been that we can rely on to figure out what we should do next”.

How would you establish a knowledge network? What would be the purpose of the network? Write about this in your blog.
15252943257

7000374682
I have been building and connecting with a broad range of individuals and organisations in my network over the past few years. Initially my interactions focused on collecting information and reading a few links – Not much sharing or knowledge networking from my part. As I discovered the #histedchat (history educators on Twitter) I started gaining more confidence, but more importantly building connections. This first knowledge network of history teachers would continue to push my thinking, encourage me to share, and eventually lead to collaboration with some. One of the #histedchat educators, Matt Esterman, would introduce me to TeachMeets in 2014 and a new network of educators to interact with. Following on from this was the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney, where I had the opportunity to meet teachers from around Aus & NZ face to face, taking virtual connections to in-person conversations.

Since then a lot has changed and developed, but the start of creating a Knowledge network is probably the biggest step to take. Signing up for Twitter, Google+, etc. is the easy part, starting to follow and read links is still quite easy to do, but when you gain the confidence to start conversing and sharing, then the magic starts happening. A network is there to interact with, to grow with, to learn from, to share with, to encourage, to support, to challenge, to question, to find ideas, to discover opportunities, to make friendships, to create, to collaborate; and to ultimately make you an informed active 21st century educator.

INF532 Module 1.2 Reflection

Thomas and Browne’s ‘new culture of learning’ is something I experienced many years ago when I looked into immigrating to Australia from South Africa in 2007. As I started looking at what the requirements were and what I needed to do, I became very confused and worried about how to actually do it. Then I discovered an online Forum of people that had made the move and people that were in the process of making the move.Here was a group of people sharing across a range of topics, helping one another and supporting everyones journey. I became part of this community for over 3 years, firstly reading a lot, then asking questions, and then finally being able to support people at the start of their journeys.

 

Now in the past 3 years as an educator I have come across a new place of learning – Twitter and my PLN. This space has been absolutely incredible in opening my education world and perspectives. I have managed to form friendships and manage to grow as a teacher with the knowledge/experience that others are sharing. I love how I can also contribute and be part of this global learning community, and I can see the power in this new culture of learning that is emerging.

Growing & Connecting

It has been a journey from a basic understanding, to an enlightened disposition on digital citizenship over the past 12 weeks. I have been an active participant online with using PLN’s, managing my digital footprint and recognising the role of creative commons. However, the course has managed to extend my understanding significantly with regards to school leadership and vision, and I have been fascinated by the readings and resources in the course.

I have only made 2 blog posts thus far in the course this semester, and my intentions to do more have been consumed by being a full-time teacher and barely keeping my head above water at times. Being constantly connected and interacting with a PLN has made me use that as my main areas to reflect and question course material. My first blog post introduced some of my thoughts and a link to my personal blog, which has over 80 reflective posts from the past 3 years. The second blog post introduced how I’m introducing my students to twitter and the concept of PLN’s. I have always encouraged using social media for learning, but now I’m actively teaching my students how and why it is important to understand digital citizenship concepts.

Initially, the course introduced concepts that I was very familiar with, DLE, PLN, Information overload & curation; but then the move to understanding global digital citizenship issues really challenged me to explore it more deeply. The group assignment paired me with three educators that come from very different backgrounds, and locations. Working collaboratively through Hangouts, Google Docs and the Wikispaces platform was challenging; but ultimately rewarding with our final product that we produced. Besides the group task, being able to chat on a regular basis with fellow students online has allowed us to push one another and assist each other on this journey.

7000374682

One of my favourite quotes from the modules was this one, “21st Century skills harness not only the power of technology but the power of people” from ‘Flattening classrooms, engaging minds’, (Lindsay & Davis, 2012, p. 2). Connecting with fellow students on Twitter has been a great way to share ideas and resources, including the Twitter chat myself and Jordan Grant ran on digital citizenship (Storify of chat).

Being passionate about connected learning and forming a wide-ranging PLN has allowed me to explore many opportunities. This course, previous units and various readings have formed the basis of some of the presentations I will be doing at a number of Conferences over the coming months. Creating positive professional networks gives me access to a variety of experts, but also allows me to share with others.

 

The last 3 modules put the school vision and leadership clearly in the framework and how important it is to have strong leadership. My knowledge has grown in understanding that the whole spectrum of digital citizenship needs to be embedded in all areas of school. My own research and readings have confirmed that teachers themselves need to be better equipped to teach digital citizenship, and that many schools do not have a clear vision on digital citizenship beyond cyber safety.

Moving on from this course I hope to create more awareness at my school on the range of digital citizenship areas, especially student digital footprint and creating global connections. To accomplish this it would involve getting the school leadership on board with a number of key stakeholders to determine the school vision for digital citizenship. There are a number of key resources shared by educators and organisations, from Christine Haynes’s post, to the Common Sense Media (2016) website. As I pursue to bring about some changes I know it will need to be a collective effort, but an absolute necessity in preparing students for the connected future.

Connected Learning

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

 

 

 

References

Common Sense Media (2016). Common Sense: Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

Haynes, C. (2016). Digital Citizenship: A Community ApproachRetrieved from http://christinehaynes.me/digital-citizenship-a-community-approach/

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

 

At long last a Blog Post

With all my intentions to be more active in blogging this year, and focus on this one in particular, it has just not happened. The teaching year started off with such a bang with an increased workload and my little girl starting Prep, and now I’m trying to find my blogging voice again. Over the past 4 years I have been a regular/infrequent blogger on my personal site: The Teaching River. Here I have about 80 posts, almost 15,000 views and great recap of my thoughts over the years. Writing does not come naturally to me, but I realised how powerful blogging is as a reflective tool and I have persisted. Some of my posts have been enlightening for myself, others have been badly written, and others have inspired some of my readers. Please have a look if you would like to know more about me.

I have found beside blogging, Twitter as my go-to place for all information and sharing. I started slowly, but over the past 2 years I have become fairly active on Twitter and my PLN has grown exponentially, and herein the power of a PLN has created many opportunities, sharing and collaboration.

14892685406

This quote I found last night on Twitter sums up beautifully the potential of a connected PLN allows on Twitter:
Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.37.29 PM

 

 

 

I’m loving this unit ETL523 on Digital Citizenship. It is an area that I love exploring and reading about. It is part of my daily life, and I’m hoping to integrate more of these ideas into my school over the coming months.

Now it is time to catch up on the Forums, a few readings finish the modules and delve into the first assignment with my group.

Designing Spaces for Learning – Case Report

This is my case report assignment as part of INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning with Ewan McIntosh.

Introduction

The case study report explores the conception, management and impact of how a change in a physical space was done to influence student learning. The report will describe and critically analyse the parameters of ‘choice of process’, ‘the nature of work groups and teams’ and ‘exterior pressures and design constraints’; using literature and examples to inform the process of designing spaces for learning. Recommendations will be made from the analysis to inform the design practice and how learning space design can be improved in future scenarios.

 

Case Development

This case study analyses the process that took place at a K-12 school in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia during 2012 to 2013. Over the past several years the school had undergone rapid growth and expansion, with enrolments increasing by more than 20% per year. In late 2012 the decision was made to move the library from its existing space into a new building that had been commissioned for 2013. The old library space was created when the school was still a relatively small school of less than 200 students. By 2013 the school had over 600 students enrolled, and with future predictions of over 800 students by 2016. This meant that the old library space no longer would be able to serve the school cohort and there was no space for senior students especially to have study time, nor space for junior school students to explore, such as makerspaces. The new building block that was proposed would include two science laboratories and a performing arts area on the top floor, and the bottom floor would serve as the new library space; with two general classrooms on the side. The new space was envisioned to be a hub for learning, with more study space for senior students and greater access to an open space for junior students for reading and storytelling activities. The funding came about through increased expenditure by the Australian government through the Building Education Revolution funding.

 

The decision to add new buildings, and the management of them at the school, is done with a team involving the architects, school building project manager, construction foreman and the school principal, as well as some input from the school board members. There was some consultation with the librarian, but she had decided to return to classroom and would not be part of this new space. No other teachers or students were consulted in the design and conceptualisation process. The management and leadership of the space design involved regular meetings between the project manager, the architect and the builder. They met and discussed the school space requirements, considered the legislation and building code aspects, and decided upon the layout of the building. The project team made all decisions regarding furniture, fittings and decor. This management and design of the space is an interesting element to explore as it looks at who actually controls the space design, in particular with regards to the design being done ‘at’ the users rather than ‘with’ them (Kimbell, 2011).

 

Furthermore the issue that arises from this, is that the power controlled by a few in designing spaces for learning leaves the actual users with no voice in the process. The choices that the design team makes can, and is, heavily influenced by financial constraints; but also the nature of the work group designing it. The biggest concern with non-teachers and non-students designing the spaces is that the pedagogical input is absent. The following critical analysis will look at how this new space was conceived, managed and led to impact learning in the new library.

 

The Critical Analysis

Choice of Process

The space is a core part of developing a creative culture at a school (McIntosh, 2015c), with every new space creating an unique possibility to impact learning. Teaching and pedagogy change over time and buildings need to be able to respond with and to it (Blyth, 2013, p. 264). The actual way of going about it is key to the successful creation, management and implementation of a change of space. The design starts as a cloudy idea about how it should look or how it should work (Razzouk & Shute, 2012, p. 335), and then eventually progresses into new innovations to meet the needs and wants of a growing school. According to the JISC report, “Effective dialogues are needed to establish what will be required from the learning spaces” (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 10). Flynn also agrees that doing research is crucial, but at the start it is imperative to define the vision for the change (Flynn, 2008, p. 24).

 

The establishment of the pedagogical aims at the onset is crucial before any design process can begin (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 6). As Andrew Blyth points out, “To create a well-designed school you need to invest in the whole design process, which is all about enabling the architect to get a good understanding of the educational needs of the school client,…”(Blyth, 2013, p. 265). In the case study however, this does not take place. The design is purely focused on the creation of a large space to house the library. There is no consideration of the pedagogical vision for the space, nor is there research conducted to gather insight on how modern library spaces are being utilised.

 

There are some common elements of how to go about the management of the whole change process in various literatures. Seidel and Fixson (2013, p. 20) describe this process as ‘Need-finding’, where the focus is gaining insight through observation, empathy and immersion into the user’s context. Brown and Katz (2011, p. 382) agree that the process needs to start with intense observation and immersion to gain insight in how space can be used and to develop empathy for the users. Tim Brown (2009, p. 1) also points out, “Design is human-centred”, and as such the people using it always need to be considered in the process of changing a space. Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby (2012) further explain that the gathering of information from a variety of sources is needed to help with decision-making (p. 114). The case study appears to have not followed what the literature proposes, as there was no immersion or observation by the individuals tasked to manage the change. The case study observed turned out to be a very designer-centric approach that did not allow for understanding of pedagogical aims, but rather purely on building design.

 

The nature of work groups and teams

Each space is unique, and requires a shared responsibility and ownership by all stakeholders for successful change (du Toit, 2015).There is multiple different literatures that share similar views on how important the design team is for the successful creation of new spaces. Design involves all members of the team or groups to have a shared responsibility in the design process (McIntosh, 2015a). As Flynn points out, building a stakeholder team that has representation of potential users and nonusers of a space, includes a diversity of individuals in the planning team (Flynn, 2008, p. 24). This team needs to have a combination of pragmatics and creative people, all of whom are open and willing to listen to different viewpoints (Flynn, 2008, p. 24).

 

These teams could be a formal ‘space management team’ (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 13), an ‘interdisciplinary team’ for complex problem-solving (Brown & Katz, 2011, p. 381), or a ‘multidisciplinary team’ (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). The best designers don’t work alone, their designing and redesigning requires collaboration between teams of people with different disciplines, and insights are gained where they interconnect (Gardiner, 2013, p.5). The multidisciplinary teams that Seidel and Fixson refer to able to attempt a broader range of challenges and they allow creative ideas to flourish (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). Blyth mentions that for teams to function to their highest capacity the designers and educators need to speak the same language (2013, p. 267). The design in education needs to be more ‘us-with-them’ (Brown & Katz, 2011, p.32), and focus on all relevant stakeholders. This means that effective change cannot occur without the input from teachers and students. It is therefore essential that learners also need to be involved in the design process of learning spaces (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 4). The continuous input of students is an essential ingredient in an effective design process to create learning spaces (Souter, Riddle, Sellers, & Keppell, 2011, p. 14).

 

The case study does not match with these findings at all. The case study shows that the group or team designing the spaces is a very narrow, confined composition. All the literature points to having a diverse group; including teachers and students, but also allowing all groups to have input in the design process. Without the end-users involved in the team it makes it very difficult for teachers, or students, to feel any ownership of the space. The team in the case study has also been involved in many other projects, and this could lead to them being more skilled in decision-making, but at the same time the assumptions, motivations and conservatism of the group never allows creativity or experimentation to take place.

 

Exterior pressures and design constraints

New facilities are long-term investments that require significant capital outlay and a number of different constraints need to be considered (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 3). When considering the different pressures or constraints, the design team always needs to return to what type of learning they want to see take place there. To do this, there needs to be a deep understanding of the pedagogy involved for the space (McIntosh, 2015b), and this links back to the composition of a design team needed to include all stakeholders to give that diverse perspectives that teachers and students could provide. Tim Brown explains it very well that dealing with design, the desirability, viability and feasibility drives any new project (Brown, 2009, p. 3). There are many diverse requirements to consider, from construction materials, government funding specifications, building code legislation, state and local council legislation, and a host of other areas to consider, based on where the project takes place.

 

The design brief needs to offer flexibility, but at the same time it is crucial to be very specific in dealing with the conflicting constraints. School systems are motivated to improve spaces, but external pressures and uncertainty about the future often hamper them. Kuratko et al. (2012) says that these constraints need to be accepted and embraced; and that competing constraints are the foundation of design thinking (p.110). According to Alastair Blyth, one of the biggest constraints that school have to deal with is money and they have to work within this (Blyth, 2013, p. 264). Buildings are expensive, and there is an acceptance that new buildings need to be future orientated and allow for flexibility to adapt.

 

The case study that has been examined does appear to match several of the points that deal with external pressures. There is ample consideration taken of legislative and financial constraints when designing the space. This is managed well with utilising government funding and having an expert on the different legal requirements as part of the planning team. The area that is absent however is the focus on the learning, the pedagogy, for the space and how the different constraints impact this. There is also minimal use of creativity to consider alternative design elements, and as such the case study fails in developing innovative new strategies.

 

Conclusion

The physical learning environment plays a central role in reforming the operational culture of a school (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 2) Unfortunately the new library space design suffers from a range of untapped resources and possibilities. With the project team being very designer-centric, it meant that there was little room for creativity, user input or pedagogical considerations. Therefore the lack of diverse input through teachers, students, community and others means that there is a lack of ownership felt by the users. Furthermore, the space ended up being inflexible and constraining; and as Kuratko et al. (2012, p. 104) states, “ A well-designed artefact is embraced by the target audience, whereas bad design leaves the user confused and/or uninterested in the artefact.” Many issues could have been avoided and the following recommendations are to be considered to improve the process in the future.

 

 

Recommendations

  • The design team needs to be able to embrace the first stage of developing new ideas. This means being able to immerse themselves in observing how spaces are used. Quite often architects do not fully appreciate the nuances in education (Blyth, 2013, p. 267), and by having architects meet with teachers and do first-hand observation, it will offer them greater perspective.
  • Similarly, educators are not always able to read architectural plans and drawings, and careful consideration needs to be addressed with how communication takes place (Blyth, 2013, p. 267). By working on the means of communication it will enable misinterpretation to be avoided.
  • Part of observation involves developing the opportunity to grow empathy for the actual users of the spaces. Design planning needs to be able to utilise this and become much more user-centric, rather than design-centric. As Brown and Katz (2011) point out, design needs to put people first (p. 382).
  • When developing new designs it also important to consider developing prototypes that will allow users to critique and provide feedback. Feedback is extremely powerful in adjusting designs early on in the process. Designers need to be able to step back from their ideas and let others critique them, and this will allow real and rapid impact (Gardiner, 2013, p. 7).
  • The changes proposed to a learning space needs to involve teachers and students. No change will be successful if it does not involve them (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 6) . The space alone won’t greatly impact the learning, but when the school community is involved with the process, the impact increases significantly (McIntosh, 2015d).
  • A major flaw in the design of the space in the case study is the composition of the project team. To enable more creative, collaborative and pedagogical input it is crucial that the group consist of a greater mix of relevant individuals.
  • Consideration of changing the process from being ‘top-down’ to a more ‘bottom-up’ approach through reflective practice (Woolner, McCarter, Wall & Higgins, 2012, p. 46). This would mean involving students, allowing them the opportunity to have their voices heard. This could be through surveys, focus groups, brainstorming activities, informal discussions or focused ideation. Thinking about, and how, the students are impacted needs to be at the forefront of all considerations.
  • Tom Kelly suggests that there is a need to create an environment where creativity can happen through haphazard insights, chance encounters and productive mistakes (Kelley, 2014). In a school setting it could involve setting up a model, or board that showcases possible designs. Students, parents and teachers could access this and provide comments and suggestions. This will allow new insights to come about to assist the architects and planners.
  • Good teamwork, collaboration and communication is crucial for groups. The participants need to be open, flexible and willing to engage in the process to determine the best outcomes for the problem identified. This can be enhanced when the team is a multidisciplinary group (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). By building the relationships within the team it will allow for positive interactions to flourish.
  • The creation of a ‘war room’ where the design team can come together, immersed in the problem with diagrams, notes and images (Knapp, 2014). Here they will be able to gain a better understanding of the constraints and allow ideas to develop. The physical nature of the ‘war room’ artefacts allows the team to find potential links between ideas and previously disparate ideas (Kolko, 2012).
  • Final recommendation involves the point that even if the change in space is completed, “there needs to be a behavioural change in relation to planning and producing spatial solutions”, to better serve future dynamic physical learning environments (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 6)
  • It needs to become an ongoing process that uses the power of feedback to improve and evolve. As Ron Berger mentions in ‘Austin’s Butterfly (Expeditionary Learning, 2013), “kind, specific and useful feedback” allows for improvement over time, and this is what all designs need to aim for.

 

References

Blyth, A. (2012). Design of Education, Pan European Networks: Government 04, 264-267. Retrieved from http://www.paneuropeannetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/5_A-Blyth-6001-6002-Atl.pdf

 

Brown, T. (2009) Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from: http://www.getabstract.com

 

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

 

du Toit, J. (2015, September 7). Literature critique INF536. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2015/09/07/literature-critique-inf536/

 

Expeditionary Learning. (2013, October 9). Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work – Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZo2PIhnmNY

 

Flynn, W. (2008). Built to Last. Community College Journal, 79(2), 22-28. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ816521

 

Gardiner, E. (2013). Changing behaviour by design: Combining behavioural science with design-thinking to help organisations tackle big social issues. Design Council & Warwick Business School. Retrieved from: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/Changing%20behaviour%20by%20design.pdf

 

Joint Information Services Committee. (2006). Designing Spaces for Effective Learning. Retrieved from http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140616001949/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/learningspaces.pdf

 

Kelley, T., (2014, January 10). Invite serendipity to your cafe and expect innovation. Wired UK. Retrieved from http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/01/ideas-bank/tom-kelley

Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306. Retrieved from http://www.lucykimbell.com/stuff/DesignPractices_Kimbell_DC_final_public.pdf

 

Knapp, J. (2014). Google ventures: Your design team needs a war room. Here’s how to set one up, Fast Company. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028471/google-ventures-your-design-team-needs-a-war-room-heres-how-to-set-one-up

 

Kolko, J. (2010). Abductive thinking and sensemaking: The drivers of design synthesis. Retrieved from http://www.jonkolko.com/writingAbductiveThinking.php

 

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : Transforming organizational thinking, 103-123. Retrieved from https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf

 

Kuuskorpi, M. & González, N. C., (2011), The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities that Support the User, CELE Exchange, Centre for Effective Learning Environments, 2011(11), DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0lkz2d9f2-en

 

McIntosh, E. (2015a). Designing with Intent [INF536 Module 3.1]. Retrieved August 19, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493460-dt-content-rid-1076333_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module3/3_1_Designing_with_intent.html

 

McIntosh, E. (2015b). Design strong spaces: design strong learning [INF536 Module 4.2]. Retrieved August 21, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493463-dt-content-rid-1076208_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module4/4_2_Strong_spaces_learning.html

 

McIntosh, E. (2015c). Creative Culture [INF536 Module 5]. Retrieved September 17, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493465-dt-content-rid-1076311_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module5.html

 

McIntosh, E. (2015d). From failing school, to flying colours: technology, space, community and perseverance [INF536 Module 7.3]. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493468-dt-content-rid-1076189_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module7/7_3_Failing_to_flying.html

 

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82(3), 330–348. Retrieved from http://rer.sagepub.com/content/82/3/330

 

Seidel, V. P., & Fixson, S. K. (2013). Adopting design thinking in novice multidisciplinary teams: the application and limits of design methods and reflexive practices: adopting design thinking in novice teams. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19–33. doi:10.1111/jpim.12061

 

Souter, K., Riddle, M., Sellers, W., & Keppell, M. (2011). Spaces for knowledge generation. Final report. Australian Teaching & Learning Council. Retrieved from http://documents.skgproject.com/skg-final-report.pdf

 

Woolner, P., McCarter, S., Wall, K., & Higgins, S. (2012). Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice? Improving Schools, 15(1), 45-60, Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1177/1365480211434796

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…

 

References

Hockenberry, J. (2012, June). Transcript of ‘We are all designers’. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/john_hockenberry_we_are_all_designers/transcript

Starck, P. (2007, March). Design and destiny [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design

The Start

9320933063_6ba2d83325_h

I’m sitting here tonight getting myself ready to launch into my first Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) subject, INF530 Concepts & Practices for a Digital Age. What an exciting course to start this new learning journey with, and I’m nervous and excited at the same time. There will be a learning curve, there will be challenges and there will be frustrations, but the growth that lies ahead is so inviting. From deciding to enroll in this course 6 months ago, to now, the anticipation has been building.  Now the time is here.

I’m looking forward to this journey; Learning alongside so many wonderful educators and being challenged in my thinking by the incredible lecturers involved. ‘Always Learning’ is part of my motto with everything I do, and I’m looking forward to doing this with everyone in this course over the next few years.

Jacques

Image: creative commons licensed (BY 2.0) Flickr photo by Official US Navy Page: https://flic.kr/p/fcEdEt