Part B Changed by design: A Critical reflection
The grown-ups advised me to put away my drawings of boa constrictors, outside or inside, and apply myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why I abandoned, at the age of six, a magnificent career as an artist.” (Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince).
This critical reflection adopts Driscoll’s (1994) model of critical reflection to structure the reflection. This model is based on Kolb’s (1984) cycle of action and reflection. Driscoll’s model asks three simple questions to guide the reflective practitioner: What? So what? Now what? By using this framework, the critical reflection will not only delve into learning and practice during the course but look forward to future action based on these insights.
As a learning designer my job title ominously bears the word “designer”. However, engaging with the modules in INF536 has introduced me to design methodologies and processes that I knew very little about. Although I briefly studied Graphic Design, I soon dropped out and enrolled in more “sensible” subjects that would introduce me to educational theory and practices—constructivism, Connectivism and cognitivism. I packed my pencils, art journals and paints away to hone my skills at understanding how we learn and how we create and share knowledge.
However, there was an important piece of the puzzle that was lacking in my understanding of how to create effective, engaging learning experiences and spaces. In the last semester of the Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) the last puzzle piece was handed to me. Designing spaces for learning was more than a puzzle piece though, it was a gift that gave me permission to use creative storyboarding techniques to sketch my ideas and reconnect with my pencils and paints, use my iPad and iPhone to capture moments of insight and create a learning space for myself that inspired me.
The observation tasks during the course promoted a new sense of mindfulness as I engaged with the environment and spaces I find myself. Reading Brown (2009) encouraged me to share design thinking processes at our weekly team meetings. Our team has now put together an inspiration wall which pictures of the work environment we want to design.
Landmarks along the way include Thornburg’s (2007) primordial metaphors for learning in the twentieth-first century, McIntosh’s (2015) notion of having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to inspire vision and Bennett’s (2006) six questions which need to be asked when designing spaces. Pixar’s courage to reinvent themselves (Catmull, 2008) and Brown’s challenge to put people first (p.77), embrace constraints and plan for “serendipity, unpredictability and capricious whims of fate” (p.23) are reminders to avoid “imitations of an earlier invention that are no longer relevant to the discovery of specific possibilities in a new situation” (Buchanan, 1992, p.13)
While shifts in the national quality agenda and student cohorts seeking flexible study options has increased the pressure to design for digital and experimental spaces, design thinking processes and methodologies provide me with frameworks and strategies to innovate and design learning spaces that look beyond traditional models and practices. Spaces that are flexible, creative and student-centered.
Bennett, S. (2006). First questions for designing higher education learning spaces. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33(1), 14-26.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by design. New York, NY: Harper.
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5-21.
Catmull, E. (2008). How Pixar fosters collective creativity. Harvard Business review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2008/09/how-pixar-fosters-collective-creativity
McIntosh, E. (2015). How to come up with great ideas and actually make them happen: A pragmatic strategy handbook for education leaders, innovators and troublemakers. Edinburgh: NoTosh Publishing.
Thornburg, D.D. (2004). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st century. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 1(1), 3-10.Retrieved from http://itdl.org/journal/oct_04/oct_04.pdf#page=7