Critical Reflection for INF536

As this subject comes to an end it is time to reflect on my learning journey throughout this unit. I came to this subject with some previous experience developing high end digital resources and teaching online for a number of years. In some ways the hardest part during the early stages of the subject was to check this past ‘baggage’.

The most frustrating, but worthwhile experiences were the non-assessed assessments. These were the tangible areas of the course where I played and gained experience from real life situations such as the creative mornings. We were given the opportunity to observe and immerse ourselves in locations that would inform our case-studies. By learning to look at spaces critically with an outsider’s perspective opened my eyes up to different possibilities that the site I work on could offer. As a direct result of the immersion task I have managed to revitalize and re-purpose underused spaces on our site which are going to be crucial for an event later this year.

Design thinking (Brown, 2008) has many similarities to my work, creating resources and professional e-learning experiences for the VET sector where we now use rapid development tools to create ‘just-in-time’ information packages rather than large multimedia projects. I now come to design meetings with different perspectives on why something may not work and with options for improvement.

I have setup and actively use a ‘brain trust’, comprised of design specialists and VET trainers who will put great solution on the table quickly (Catmull, 2014). This group in turn does make me think smarter and has improved my ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking skills when brainstorming, making me more productive and creative with my work.

Prototyping is now a key in my work (Kuratko, et al. 2012). Prototyping has had a positive impact on the team I work with, and we are often heard saying “let’s try that option and see what we learn”. This has been particularly useful in trialing new mobile technologies when we are using them not for the original intended use, for example using a mobile phone as an external party microphone for a virtual conference situation.

This subject has validated the reasons behind how I design digital spaces for adult learners. This includes spaces that allow ‘real life’ experiences and allow the users to take ownership of the learning space. I have learnt the strength of parody to form design solutions (Schrage, 2013). My department was having problems with the look and feel of the home page on our Learning Management System (LMS) and did a mockup that looked similar to a Microsoft™ Windows© tablet. From this we found a theme that was customizable and the new site was born.

Finally I have learnt that digital learning spaces, are never be fully completed (Milne, 2006), but if you view it as an organic evolving space – a work in progress, with many voices of a community designing it. Technology will do nothing to improve ineffective teaching (Jasinski, 2006), but in the hands of an e-learning specialist it can become a place where life-long learning happens in dynamic and rich communities.

References

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 http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=59161877&site=ehost-live

Catmull, E. (2014, April). Inside the Pixar braintrust, Fast Company. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcompany.com/3027135/lessons-learned/inside-the-pixar-braintrust

Jasinski, M. (2006). Innovate and integrate: Embedding innovative practices. 1st ed. [pdf] Canberra: DEST, Commonwealth of Australia. Available at: http://flexiblelearning.net.au/wp-content/uploads/Innovate_and_Integrate_Report1.pdf [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014].

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

Milne, A.J.(2006). Designing Blended Learning Space to the Student Experience. Retrieved November 19, 2011, from http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/books/learning-spaces/chapter-11-designing-blended-learning-space-student-experience

Schrage, M. (13 Feb, 2013). How Parody Inspires Great Design, Harvard Business Review Blog: Retrieved from: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/02/how-paroday-inspires-great-des/

Wang, Y., & Chen, D. (2011). Instructors as Architects-Designing Learning Spaces for Discussion-Based Online Courses. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems, [online] 39(3), pp.281-294. doi:10.2190/ET.39.3.e http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=cbfaade9-0449-42cc-b0d0-3570bdb1626b%40sessionmgr110&vid=1&hid=101 [Accessed 8 October 2014

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