Blog task 1

Our library viewing area (as it is described for booking purposes) is a large, fairly open space where students mostly sit on the floor to use the set of iPads or for viewing the TV. It’s popular with teachers for the iPads because we have an Apple TV making for easy sharing of student work. I wrote about one corner of this space in Impact of space but I knew I wanted to look more at this area. As you can see, the corner wasn’t the only messy part of this space. (click on the image to rotate the panorama).

On the face of it the area is serving its purpose but I feel it could be better utilised. One thing I’ve noticed is that, even though we are always busy at lunchtime, this area does not get much use at that time (although the new 3D printer has generated lots of interest). Being a “dumping ground” was not limited to the one (now cleared) corner and even something as simple as cleaning out the superfluous stuff should have a positive impact. The central area which is not visible in the panorama is basically an empty carpeted space. There is a contrasting carpet square that is used to define the seating area for viewing the TV.

I’d like to make the area more attractive and inviting for students so they are tempted to spend time there of their own volition. It would be lovely to redecorate the area with some of the fabulous multipurpose furniture pieces I’ve seen. New carpet would make a huge difference too, as would a new colour scheme, writeable walls and more options for display.

Image from


Image from

However, my school is embarking on a major consolidation and building process. According to the plan we will be moving out sometime next year so that the building can be gutted and refitted. At that time we will move into a completely new space (that’s a whole other story). Thinking about what Brown (2009) describes as the work of a design thinker – the harmonious balance of desirability, feasibility and viability – it’s pretty clear that such ideas, while desirable and feasible are not viable.

Fundamental to the use of design in learning spaces is the consideration of the style of teaching and learning that will take place and the flexibility to provide for different styles in the same environment. Buchanan (1992) discusses “the role of design in sustaining, developing, and integrating human beings into broader ecological and cultural environments, shaping these environments when desirable and possible or adapting to them when necessary” (p. 10). So “using constraints as inspiration” (Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby 2012, p. 110) I’ve turned my attention to the activities that could occur to make the space more appealing rather than focusing just on the physical.

I have been thinking for a while that I’d like to use this space for students (and possibly teachers too) to present “how to” sessions about their interests, passions and hobbies. This idea was formed last semester when we looked at Creative Cultures in module 5 of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. I’m still working on how to get that started but in the meantime this task has given me the impetus to try something else first.

My plan is to provide a variety of new activities for students (a different one each day or week) in this space at lunchtimes. First up will be a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle that I will place on a table in the middle. I’ve no idea how quickly it might be completed but there won’t be any problem leaving it as a work in progress over a few days. The table usually lives against a wall but can be easily moved by two people allowing us to clear the space for classes at other times. I will look for other similar ideas (and thanks Patricia Lee for your inspiration already) – perhaps some craft activities or obsolete equipment that the children might like to take apart and tinker with.Jigsaw


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

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues. 8(2), 5–21.

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.

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11 thoughts on “Blog task 1

  1. I love the idea of having a space for activities.
    Along the same lines, you could consider a ‘Maker’ space. The Maker movement seems to be getting some traction at the moment. Razzouk’s article refers to the fact that design thinking can have a positive impact on contemporary education. Providing a space where students can work as a team using problem-solving skills will not only make those lunch time minutes fly, it will be helping to develop useful skills at the same time.
    (Razzouk, R., Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. )

  2. Hi “viral” Heather 🙂
    Loved your use of a panoramic shot to show us the space you are referring to.
    I think it was appropriate for you to refer to the framework that constrains design thinking – feasability, viability & desirability – because you’re right in saying that your desirability alone is not enough to spend money on new carpet for example, in a space that is going to be gutted in the near future. You have certainly brainstormed a number of ideas to make that space reflect what teaching and learning should look like today – playful, active, flexible and student centred – and I agree with you that it is important to let the spaces we design suggest to our colleagues, parents & students the type of learning that we hope goes on there. Have your students suggested any ideas of ways they envision that space?
    Your “How to” sessions remind me of the DIY Workshops that students present in our CLiC each Monday at lunchtime. The topics, workshops, resources & presentations are completely student directed – I just turn up to supervise (and participate! I am learning to make loom band bracelets next week). SThese have been running for 3 years now, and are still as successful as when they first started. Students from K-6 have been workshop presenters, and we have occassionally had teachers and parents attend workshops (eg. some teachers attended the “How to use Blue Screen” effects in movies” presented by a Yr 6 student). My favourite one this year has been “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse”. Our DIY Workshop roster is fully booked until the end of the year.

    • Hi Jo,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I have a confession to make – it was something you wrote last semester about your DIY workshops that gave me the idea for the How to sessions, but I couldn’t remember where I’d read it to be able to properly acknowledge you in this post! So thank you for the idea!

  3. Hello Heather,
    Your 360 degree view was wonderful. It is often hard to capture a Library’s environment in a photograph as they often include many different areas and aspects. I agree that this area could lend itself to a “Makerspace” like environment. I did some research about these creative cultures last semester and I realised that they don’t have to be permanent, or cater to the same audience all the time. They can be quite simple like a “rainbow loom” day as mentioned by Jo or they can grow into permanent mindlabs.

    • I think this point on the transient nature of space is really interesting, particularly when you’re in limbo between an old building and a new one. When you take delays into account, that can amount to years of limbo, so this quick, temporary change that generates curiosity is simple, free or very cheap, and could have a great impact.

      I’d love to know more about the impact you’ve noticed from making this small change. Can you share on that a little more?

  4. Hi Heather,
    I also appreciate the addition of the 360 degree panorama. It allows a much better view of the actual setting of the space. I noticed that this photograph was taken prior to the arrival of the 3D printer. Already, the space will be more inviting and utilised, I imagine, because of the makerspace element. An unintended consequence of the 3D printer placement is that the clutter on the map cabinet was cleared away, which helps make the space more inviting. If you likewise cleared away the hanging bag racks and the poster rack, the space would feel less like the “dumping ground” as you call it and more like a learning space. I imagine that these are primarily for teachers, so could they go in a back room somewhere?
    It looks like you have a great space there. I can’t see the floor area, but maybe the addition of those round cushions or some beanbags would make it even more inviting. I love your choices. I know the space is just temporary until you get your new space next year, but maybe you could buy some inexpensive furniture that can be reused.
    I love your idea of the flexible activity space, too. A full makerspace can’t be too far behind. You’re on your way!
    I look forward to hearing about the new library you’ll be moving into next year. A purpose-built library, I hope?

    • Eventually we will have two new libraries (instead of the existing three). One (for years 6-12) will definitely be purpose-built in a new building and the staff are able to meet with the architects next week. The other (for K-5) I’m not sure about yet but I think will be in a refurbished building. In both cases I hope to have some input and I’m very much hoping this subject will help me in doing so.

  5. Hi Heather

    I really like the jigsaw puzzle idea because its an activity the students can do without having to read any instructions. In other words, there’s really no learning curve. They can just come along and do as many pieces of the puzzle as they want. Also, its an opportunity for students to work collaboratively since you can have more than one person working on the puzzle at the same time. As a suggestion for another activity, what about sourcing a book on origami with step-by-step instructions and placing it on the table as well as some brightly coloured paper? I’m sure the students would really enjoy that. Perhaps their designs could be displayed in the library viewing area too.

    Regards, Graham.

  6. Hi Heather. I am finding these concepts difficult to engage with, which is probably symptomatic of my work load at the moment. So, it was refreshing to read your post and view how you have tinkered with your spaces whilst being inspired by the perceived constraints in these spaces.

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