#INF536 Critical Reflection – my takeaways

The journey that is INF536 has been exciting, challenging and eye-opening. This subject has been a lesson in identifying how much we don’t know about design, design-thinking and design-theory and how often they apply to physical and digital spaces, and to our core business, the curriculum.

The modules provided a fascinating insight into the role of design in so many things, leading me to consider where I was a designer (albeit a novice) and to identify design in all things.

I always believed that I was forward thinking, whilst not a pioneer, as they are the ones who get arrows in their behinds, at least an early adopter, until Module 3 made me understand how necessary it is to design schools for an entirely unknown future. 


What is education for?


Design-thinking is the phrase that I have been looking for, to identify what we need to be doing in every aspect of education, but the concept of being learner centred and user centred provided me with the missing ingredient. As a teacher and librarian, I have always been responsible for ‘designing’ the curriculum to suit my cohort; developing the assessment tasks; identifying the modes of presentation and designing the spaces that we would use to maximise my students potential. I have added colour, smells and music to change how my teaching spaces feel (Mozart effect, Ian Lillico and more), included the latest trends in terms of technology, furniture and groupings and researched and refurbished 4 library spaces; but never previously grasped how many tools are available to guide design thinking, in a multiplicity of ways, and at every stage of the process.

The concept of asking the ‘right’ questions and interpreting the answers, to design something that others also had ownership of, is inspiring. The fact that the ideas, observations and interpretations do not have to all come from me is freeing. The most immediate change is that I no longer want to go and brainstorm with just my team, but also with an eclectic, unexpected group from my community, for altogether different perspectives. The coffee meetup task totally cemented this idea, with 2 more coffee meetups in the pipeline.

The design thinking process has identified that I do incorporate most of the steps when designing curriculum, physical and digital spaces, but not consistently or thoroughly, and I have been guilty of thinking that the project was ‘finished’ after sharing what we had done, without collecting feedback or reviewing whether it could go through the prototype phase again. I believed that the fact that I was willing to change designs regularly was enough. Understanding thatthe design process is cyclic has clarified how I need to better address each stage multiple times to evolve, as opposed to ‘finish’ and then redesign.

The IDEO toolkit, De Bont et al. (2013), Radcliffe et al. (2006) and Bennett (2003, 2006) have provided valuable ideas, examples and tools for use in my design processes. The readings and videos have connected library design with innovative ideas from every kind of space.

My immediate takeaways are:

Coffee meetups for co-designing, reviewing, insights and feedback

Incorporating gamer and/or makerspaces, even if it is only one afternoon a week

The importance of light, nature and acoustics

Thornburg’s Campfire’s to Holodecks to cater to all learning styles

Timely induction into new designs for students and staff

Use research and evidence to support risk

Share everything!



Bennett, S., Demas, S., Freeman, G.T., Frischer, B., Oliver, K. and Peterson, C. (2005). Library as Place:

Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. Retrieved from http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub129/pub129.pdf

De Bont, C., den Ouden, E., Shcifferstein, R., Smulders, F. and van der Voort, M. (2013). Advanced Design

Methods for Successful Innovation. Design United. Netherlands. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/chochstrasser/Downloads/BontAdvanceddesignmethodsforsuccesfulinnovation2013.pdf

Oblinger, D. (2006). Chapter 1. Space as Change Agent. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from


Radcliffe, D., Wilson, H., Powell, D. and Tibbetts, B. (2009). Space – Learning Spaces in Higher

Education: Positive Outcomes by Design. Proceedings of the Next Generation Learning Spaces, 2008 Colloquium University of Queensland, Brisbane. Retrieved from http://www.wilsonarchitects.com.au/sites/default/files/UQ%20Next%20Generation%20Book_2.pdf

Thornburg, D. (2013). From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning

Environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=542e77de-a21c-4bd0-ae72-3e339403d1b3@sessionmgr114&vid=0#db=nlebk&AN=645067


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