Archive of ‘INF536’ category

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:


Creative Culture in Education

Some of the attributes of creative culture can be seen in the principles of Connected Learning.

Connected Learning Creative Commons License This Connected Learning Infographic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

The passions, interests and engagement of the student is central to connected learning. Making, creating and producing at school and outside of school is emphasised. Students are able to draw on the expertise of others, either in person or by using technology. The video below gives a brief overview of Connected Learning. Read more about Connected Learning at my INF530 reflection and at the Connected Learning website.

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Creative Spaces

The creative office spaces featured in this module five provide diverse, flexible and safe spaces for employees. Collaboration is very important and the physical proximity of teams is a high priority, however there is an awareness that different activities require a variety of spaces for the best outcomes. Open, semi-open and closed spaces are available to meet different needs, while communal spaces such as kitchens and cafes allow for chance encounters and informal discussions.


Productivity drives business and Google believes human performance is influenced by space, culture and well-being. They gather data, measure and analyse the user experience of their employees in order to improve and therefore be more innovative and productive. Office space for startups needs to be functional and low cost. Flexible solutions and input from employees   may be a necessary to make the best out of a difficult or compromised space.


Creative industries try to provide a safe place for employees where mistakes, critique and feedback are part of the learning process and this contributes to the culture of the company. Other attributes that can contribute to the culture of a creative company involve their products/services, leadership, sustainability and well-being. A newly designed place may not be successful if employees are not consulted, given choices or given the opportunity to provide feedback.


Key lessons from creative office space design that could inform learning environments:
  • Flexibility
  • Proximity and adjacencies
  • Community
  • Visibility of information and thinking
The culture and pedagogy of a school will determine how successfully spaces are used for learning. Without professional development and consultation, a new open and collaborative learning setting may not be embraced by some staff and students. Tensions may exist between how things were done in the past and how they fit in or do not fit into a new environment.


Catmull, E. (2014, April). Inside the Pixar braintrust, Fast Company. Retrieved from:

Google Ventures. (2013, November 12). Startup lab workshop: Workspace design [Video file]. Retrieved from

Playing with Digital Space

I am applying the iterative process of needfinding, ideation and prototyping (Seidel & Fixson, 2013) to a digital space in my school library.

I have observed how other public and school libraries use digital signage screens to convey information to their users. I gathered these insights and brainstormed my own ideas. The ICT Department was receptive to me wanting to know about the digital signage system and offered to train me in the use of the software.

Once I knew what the software would allow me to do, I sketched a layout of a screen template on a piece of paper. I then played and experimented with the software to try and replicate my layout. Trial and error helped me to become more familiar with the software interface.


Prototype of digital signage screen

I now have a prototype screen layout. The layout is basic but I want to test it on the screen and get some feedback before I proceed further and invest more time and resources. If my prototype does not appeal to library users, the design will need to be changed (Kuratko, 2012). So while I still have a way to go, I have used the iterative process to make a good start.


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

Designed for Purpose – Aldi Supermarket – Assessment Item 2



Exterior view of Aldi supermarket with large sign


Ample car parking is available directly outside the supermarket. About one third of the car park is covered in shade cloth. The trolley bay is just outside the supermarket and is sheltered with a roof. Trolleys are secured and require a coin or token to use.

The entry is via an ‘in’ door with a double door system. It prevents shoppers from exiting without going past the cash registers. An alarm sounds if someone tries to exit through the in door.

Like most supermarkets the lighting is very bright and the temperature is moderate. The aisles are wide enough for two trolleys to pass. In some areas shoppers have to wait before they can pass another shopper or get to a particular item. Facial expressions on some shoppers indicate patience or impatience. Some shoppers excuse themselves so they can reach an item near another shopper. Announcements requesting a staff member or announcing the opening or closing of a register can be heard. Shoppers in pairs or groups talk to each other. Children make most of the louder noises or sometimes a parent disciplining a child.

Most items are contained in boxes or on pallets that serve as shelves. Large wire containers hold clothing and household items in the centre of the store. These containers range from organised to messy. Some shoppers sift through items contained within, while others ignore them and pass by quickly. Electronic goods and  items of higher cost than grocery items are enclosed in a glass display case so a staff member must assist with their retrieval. Prices are displayed above all items with bold black text on yellow or red tickets. The red tickets distinguish items that have a special price or that are available for a limited time. Signage hangs from the ceiling for promotion.

The cash registers have a long conveyor belt where customers place their goods and they use dividers to separate their goods from those of the next customer.There are many small items above the conveyor belt. Staff at the registers scan the items very quickly.  There is only a small bench to place goods on once they are scanned. Customers need to be quick at retrieving their goods from the staff member. Customers load their goods into their own shopping bags or trolley. Some struggle to keep up to the pace of the staff member on the register and have trouble getting their money or card ready to pay while packing their bag or trolley. The EFTPOS/credit card keypad faces the customer and the staff member provides verbal instructions and only assists if the customer is unable to follow the verbal instructions. Customers who are slow at paying and packing their goods are sometimes pressured to hurry along by the body language of the next customer in the queue or by the speed of the staff member at the register. About three steps from the register there is a long bench that provides a space for customers to organise and pack their shopping into bags.

For a selection of images visit my Flickr album. Images have also been added to the INF536 Flickr group.


Sketch of Aldi floorplan. Not to scale.

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Designing Spaces for Learning – Assessment Task 1

A large flat digital signage screen is mounted on a blank wall in the school library where I am the teacher librarian. It was installed when the new school building was built four years ago. Two more screens are situated in other parts of the school. The screens are operated by the Information Communications Technology Department (ICT Department) and feature content provided by administration. After the staff member who was responsible for operating the digital signage left the school about two years ago, the screens have been used less frequently.

The school is fortunate to have digital signage equipment in place but it is currently under-utilised. This is a problem that I would like to seize for the screen situated in the library. The content displayed needs to be suited to the students and teachers so I need to “place people at the centre of things” (Leifer, 2013, p. 4) and interact with these stakeholders (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012).

Digital signage screen and the view of the library from it.

Digital signage screen and the view of the library from it.

My inspiration has come from seeing how other libraries leverage this technology. Inspiration is the first step in Tim Brown’s elements of design thinking (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012). I am excited by the possibilities of digital signage but realise there will be constraints and difficult learning ahead and I will need to “persevere through the difficult paths that are likely to arise” (Kuratko, 2012, p.111) by being proactive (second step). The benefits of having a dynamic space to communicate with students and staff will firstly require training in the software. Humility, the third element, is knowing what you don’t know and being able to admit it. I don’t know how the digital signage screens work yet, however “when you approach others for knowledge that would be useful to you and ask for their thoughts on your project, you accelerate the design process” (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012, p.112). The final two elements of design thinking I must keep in mind are flexibility and focus. To fully realise the opportunities of digital signage I must have an open mind, seek feedback and understand that criticism about the idea isn’t a criticism of me.

Digital signage can provide a dynamic way of communicating (Larson & Quam, 2010) and is increasingly used in libraries. I want to utilise the digital signage screen in the library as a promotional and learning tool. In order to make use of this digital space, this week I made enquiries with the ICT Department about contributing content. They suggested a software demonstration so I could become familiar with the capabilities of the software. The demonstration is going to take place next week, with further software training sessions to be scheduled soon after.

I am excited by the prospect of learning how to use the software so that I can promote library services, school events, student work and highlight the school’s commitment to thinking and learning. I am also apprehensive because I do not have a design background and digital signage requires visual appeal. Once I have received the necessary training, I intend to experiment, create and prototype presentations. I will then seek feedback and redesign where necessary (Razzouk & Shute, 2012).


Created by K. Malbon based on Razzouk & Shute, 2012.


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

Larson, K., & Quam, A. (2010). The modernization of SIGNS: A library leads the way to networked digital signage. Computers in Libraries, 30(3), 36-38. Retrieved from

Plattner, H., Meinel, C., & Leifer, L. (Eds.). (2013). Design Thinking Research : Building Innovation Eco-Systems. Retrieved from

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. Retrieved from

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