Part B: Critical Reflection

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Design is all around us and I use products, services and spaces that have been designed for a purpose. Professional designers such as architects, engineers, artists, fashion designers and interior designers have expert skills that I do not possess. I do not consider myself a naturally creative person but I am willing to try and learn with my hobby of photography. David Kelley says we shouldn’t opt out of creativity but develop creative confidence (Ted, 2012). I have been able to improve my creative confidence with my hobby but could I do this in other areas such as design? It is argued that creativity is a set of thinking skills and anyone who develops and transforms an idea into a new and desirable artefact is a designer (Kuratko, Goldworthy & Hornsby, 2012).

To think like a designer an educator needs to learn new skills. The processes and skills of design thinking have been taken up by non-design industries. The terminology around design thinking varies but involves needfinding, brainstorming (or ideating) and prototyping (Siedel & Fixson, 2013). In assessment task one, I applied this process to my own problem space. I identified a digital space within the library that was being under-utilised and looked at new ways it could be used and came up with a prototype on paper. Initially I was concentrating on my own needs rather than those of the learner but in a later blog post I recognised that the outcome would depend on the library users.

Empathy is a core capacity for thinking like a designer (Forum post 3.6). According to Brown & Katz (2011) insight can occur when we connect with the people we are observing through empathy. I put my observation skills to the test in assessment task two by spending twenty minutes watching and listening and noticing the activities and design of an Aldi supermarket. I observe behaviour in the library on a different level now. Teachers and school administrators should apply the same observation techniques to gain insights into the needs of their students rather than making assumptions (Forum post 3.6) or maintaining status quo.

The iterative process of play, display and watch the replay (Kuratko, Goldworthy & Hornsby, 2012) resonated with me, so without the fear of failure I transformed a small space in my senior school library into a lunchtime pop-up zone for games, puzzles and colouring (Forum 1.1). The positive impact of the transformed space also reiterated the importance of the library as a meeting space (Forum post 3.2) where students can gather to socialise and learn in an informal setting away from the traditional classroom. Thornburg’s primordial metaphors (Thornburg, 2007) and McIntosh’s Seven Spaces (McIntosh, 2012) have made me more aware of the inadequacies of certain physical and digital learning spaces for learning and where improvements could be made.

Photograph by Karen Malbon

Creative industries such as Pixar and Google are informing the design of learning environments with flexibility, community, visibility and proximity (Blog post 17/9). However an innovative space will not necessarily change practice (Forum post 7.1). Teachers may or may not reimagine their teaching and students may appropriate spaces in unexpected ways (Forum 5.2).

I floundered with some of the concepts of design, was frustrated that amazing innovations were happening elsewhere and was challenged by the complex nature of the relationships with design, learning and space. I will endeavour to put my learning into practice in a rapidly changing digital environment.


Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process Innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking (pp. 103-123). Boston: Pearson. Retrieved from

McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks and bricks: How school buildings influence future practice and technology adoption. Educational Facility Planner, 45(1&2), 33-38. Retrieved from

Seidel, V. P., & Fixson, S. K. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking in Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33. doi:10.1111/jpim.12061

Ted [Username]. 2012, March 12). David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence [Video file]. Retrieved from

Thornburg, D. (2007). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st century. Thornburg Center for Professional Development. Retrieved from:


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