INF536 Blog Task #1 – Centre on the customer and shake well!

Design thinking

Problem space:

Library Lab Space 1 has evolved into a silent lab, at the request of students seeking a quiet space to study. During class time, it is used either as a lab space for years 9-12, or a TL teaching space, when we work with classes or subject areas, to support specific units.

Lab space 1

The current furniture and layout is unsuited to these uses:

  1. Fixed benches facing the wall are not conducive to teaching and learning;
  2. The corners are very squished, particularly for the older grades;
  3. The round tables are more suited to a collaborative  space and this space is for quiet independent work;
  4. The furniture makes the space very cluttered and there is little opportunity to rearrange the space to suit different needs;
  5. The furniture and layout is not suited to the 1-to-1 tablet program that will be in place for all students in 2015.

Why design?

According to Ursrey (2014), the creative/critical thinking that is design thinking, leads us to a solution rather than problem mindset. It is our passionate focus and awareness of our ‘clients’ (teachers and students) that enables us to best identify problems and solve them. Being customer-centric allows us to move into design thinking, where we are better able to define our problems, ideate a large number of solutions, fine-tune our ideas, pick a winner and execute the idea.

Previously, classroom spaces had the sage at the blackboard, filling empty vessels facing the front of the room. Technology then seemed to dictate that seeing our clients was less important than seeing their computer screens; and the need to access power etc, meant that rooms were ‘designed’ around the perimeter. Unfortunately, this led to students fending for themselves or needing to constantly turn to the front, making this ‘new design’ less than satisfactory.

Of the 14 things that Ursrey (2014) lists to begin designer thinking, it is being customer-centric and team focused that are the stand-outs for me. Dorst’s (2010) definitions of the Master designer as taking their way of working to a level of innovation that questions the established way of working; and the work of a Visionary, as explicitly developing or redefining their field, exemplify the target that we should be aiming for.

Design in learning spaces helps users:

  • consider the relationship between learning technologies and physical space design (Radliffe, 2009)
  • develop a flexible, engaging, creative, bold environment with potential for a variety of modes of teaching and learning;
  • understand how the space is currently being used and how it can better serve the community;
  • change users’ behaviour
  • and have a sense of ownership.

Changes based on survey-

  1. Space to be renamed “Flow space”, with explanation on why it is necessary to be able to focus in order to get into the flow. Expectation that entry and exit will have minimal disruption on others.
  2. Furniture to be removed, including benches and desktops, and replaced with mobile tablet chairs (examples under consideration below).

3.  Round tables and chairs to be reused in a new collaborative space elsewhere in the library. New spaces for new purposes will be developed around social, collaborative, share and focus concepts (IDEO, 2012).

4. Projector to be replaced with either a touch table/board or wireless projector, dependant on technology budget.

5. Access to the windows and provision of glass pens for mind-mapping and brain-storming.

Other additions to be kept to a minimum, whilst clients discover the new space and make requests as needs arise, based on Brown’s (2009) minimal mapping ahead, as we test the viability, feasibility and desirability of the new space.


Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness. p.37.

Dorst, K. (2010). The Nature of Design Thinking. University of Technology Sydney.

IDEO (2012). Design Thinking for Educators.

Radcliffe, D., Wilson, H., Powell, D. and Tibbetts, B. (2008). Learning spaces in higher education: Positive outcomes by design space. University of Queensland.

Ursrey, L. (2014). Why design thinking should be at the core of your business strategy development.

  8 comments for “INF536 Blog Task #1 – Centre on the customer and shake well!

  1. Chantal Hochstrasser
    July 31, 2014 at 10:38 am
  2. Chantal Hochstrasser
    July 31, 2014 at 10:52 am
  3. Chantal Hochstrasser
    July 31, 2014 at 11:22 am
  4. wasworks
    August 1, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Hasn’t teaching space come a long way since “…the sage at the blackboard, filling empty vessels facing the front of the room.” I agree when you discuss the move to customer-centric and team oriented thinking in design being an important factor in current learning area design. The old ‘sage’ really was focussed on what suited old methodologies and some of these design have stuck around for way too many years. Sounds like the new space is going to allow the learners to interact within the area far more freely, whether it be at an individual or group level. Would love to see photographs when the space if eventually completed. Good luck.

  5. August 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Hi Chantal, your space re-design sounds terrific. Your description of the computers on benches around the walls of the classroom is just so familiar. I guess the electricity was one of the constraints of feasibility, viability and desirability that Brown tells us designers have to work within. However, it is amazing to think that our priorities throughout the history of education have had to be things other than the students and learning.

  6. sara.rapp
    August 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Chantal,
    I agree with the others that your redesign sounds great. Since you’re purchasing mobile furniture, it will be able to be altered in the future, too. It’s interesting… in a few other school libraries that I’ve visited where students have 1:1 devices, they have said that students like to use high benches with power points with their laptops or tablets because they can charge their devices while using them during breaks. So maybe don’t be too quick to dismantle your powered benches. This might be something to keep while observing what areas students gravitate towards next year. I love the name for your silent study area: Flow Space. Brilliant!

    • Chantal Hochstrasser
      August 7, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Sara,
      Thanks for the feedback. I do love the idea of the long high benches too, so we are planning a weird design for one in another part of the library (that will not be a teaching or silent space.) It is a high bench with stools on one side, which flows down to a long seat on the other side. We will have small tables to move around on the seat side.
      The low benches in the current space are dreadful and all of the power points are at floor level and have been covered over with a fixture that must be unscrewed to gain access. (Let’s not go there!) So the bench option in that space is not feasible on a number of fronts.
      You have given me food for thought though, thanks.

    August 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    It’s great to see things being taken OUT of a design to make more out of what is there. Flow has come up a few times in this exercise as something to be protected. I’d love to hear the IMPACT of these changes – any chance of a quick followup post to hear the next part of the adventure? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar