INF536: Blog Task #2

Following on from the first blog task I am interested in how the new ‘technology lounge’ for staff at our University is starting to take shape. It is meant to be a place where staff can meet and discuss how they may incorporate new technologies into their teaching and learning practice and was designed around the idea of a coffee shop/Apple store.
Putting myself into a teacher’s perspective, I have spent some time in the lounge early in the morning before work trying to think how a teacher may use the space and I have also watched how some of the early previews and workshops have taken place.
Below is how the ‘lounge’ was initially setup (these images also appear in Blog task #1).

Big Screens, touch screens, screen sharing etc

Big Screens, touch screens, screen sharing etc

Training rooms and informal discussion areas

Training rooms and informal discussion areas

It is important to note that the ‘lounge’ is not fully open yet and there is still some work to do but watching the ‘beta’ users is very interesting.
The training rooms in the background are right next to the ‘coffee lounge’ area and watching both spaces being used at the same time it is apparent that the noise levels are a problem.
To date we have run a few workshops, held some training sessions and some project meetings in the space and it is very interesting to watch how people are moving the furniture around to make it suit their needs as much as they can. Here is how the lounge looked this morning before anyone got in to arrange it back to its default position:


In the first picture, staff have taken one of the coffee tables and some chairs and placed them around one of the touch screens that supports desktop sharing.
In the second picture they have just cleared the coffee tables and chairs out, then replaced them with some more practical chairs and tables from the nearby kitchen area. These are more comfortable to sit at with laptops, writing pads etc.
Now for the really interesting one, which is a real statement about the coffee tables that were provided:


I went back to the lounge this afternoon to see how the training today went. There has been some question about the practicality of the really low ‘coffee tables’. At some point today someone found a solution to that – they stacked one on top of the other and have a table of reasonable height now with a ‘shelf’ underneath for bags etc.

Even before the space is open to all staff it is apparent that there is a lot to learn about how we may be able to make better use of the space.

Comments on other blogs:

9 thoughts on “INF536: Blog Task #2

  1. Jerry, this is a really interesting little study of the use of this space! Are the coffee tables part of a set with the chairs? They don’t even look high enough for coffee let along a functional work space! The double table was a good resolution. It would seem that these are good flexible work spaces (aside from the acoustics), allowing a range of options but as I have really started noticing in my school environment, the choice of furnishings can be the difference between an area that people choose to avoid and a really workable, ergonomic environment. Cheers, Lisa

    • Hi Lisa, I am not sure where the coffee tables came from. I am in one of a number of teams that will use the space. We have e-learning advisers, trainers, library and technology staff all spending parts of their time there to provide support for our academic staff. The ‘coffee shop’ part of the concept is to provide an area that encourages academic and academic support staff to visit and meet with others.
      Hopefully we will be running themes (e.g. weeks devoted to showcasing different elements of technology-enhanced learning), informal and more formal events to create a really vibrant space. It is mean’t to be a dynamic area and moving things around, changing the space to make it more useful for the activities in there is definitely encouraged. I’m not quite sure what the response to the table stacking will be though but given the focus on innovation, who knows?

  2. Jerry, I think you’re starting the service-design-thinking approach here (suggested in Mod 3.4) Particularly the following
    It’s User-Centric: services are experienced through the customer’s eyes first and foremost. Those customers can sometimes be internal customers.
    It’s co-creative, involving all those who have a stake in the service, including customers (from the summary Ewan’s given us about This is Service Design Thinking
    Your “customers” are showing you they aren’t keen on the low tables and are coming up with some ways to solve their problems (the double table idea makes me cringe – only because I’ve been telling senior students off for being about to attempt similar things this week, except it was chairs on tables for them to sit on)

    • HI Liz,
      yes – this is a great subject for me at the moment. It would have been fantastic if it was run last Semester when I found out about this space.

  3. Jerry, yes very interesting to note how the furniture is being rearranged by the users to suit their needs. When I first saw the photos of the space, I recognised the ‘Apple store’ influence. Today, seeing the images again drew me back to Schrange, “How parody insides great design” [2013] – quote: “The value and cognitive impact comes not from paying attention to the details but from amplifying and exploiting them for effect.’ With your photographs you could show the users design thinking developing/changing over time…

    • Hi Patricia, I was thinking about that post too. The ‘Apple store experience’ for this space is going to be about the customer service component i.e. when you walk in to one of there stores you can browse around by yourself however should you wish, you will always be greeted and assisted by someone who knows what they are doing.
      I have been lucky enough to drop into a number of Apple stores in the past and while that happens most of the time, a couple of visits to a very nearby one have been quite different experiences but it is great to go there and observe.

  4. Jerry,
    It’s so interesting to see how the furniture is being rearranged in your workspace. Working for a big corporation, design decisions are made by specialized staff, and rank and file employees don’t have much input into the process.

    As annoying as it may be to come in and see furniture rearranged on a daily basis, do you think the “strangeness” (as Bezaitis discussed in her Ted Talk) of the daily reconfiguration is adding or subtracting from the creative collaboration of the staff?

    • Hi Jim, definitely adding and we have heaps more strangeness around that will add to that I am sure!


  5. Hello Jerry,

    I enjoyed reading this and the photos really added to my understanding of the space.

    Bown’s 2009 Paper Change by Design, states that Design Thinking depends upon observing how the people actually use the space. The space looks modern and fresh and would adhere to Stephen Heppell’s requirements for furniture to be agile and flexible.


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