My first blog post for INF536 was meek, mild and decidedly self-conscious. An excerpt from said post reads as follows:
I’m feeling slightly intimidated as I don’t have access/authority to redesign a library or classroom space but I’m hoping this forces me to be more creative, and yields some interesting results. Until then, see you on the forum!
At the writing of my initial blog post, I did not feel that my background in entrepreneurship, librarianship and social media qualified me to analyze or discuss learning spaces and design in a public digital space with my fellow classmates.
The digital learning space we were required to interact in for the entirety of INF536 seemed daunting at first. We were encouraged from Day 1 to share almost everything we wrote or worked on, a practice that tends to make me uneasy in both physical and digital spaces. I noted that digital spaces that have been carved out for learning enable my shyness, and natural tendency to fine-tune and perfect what I’m going to say before I say it. In physical learning spaces, I’m not afforded the luxury of spell-check, or rereading my answer before it comes out of my mouth. The necessity for less self-editing and more mistakes often yields some of the most creative results. With that being said, I find that people are more intentional with their thoughts and words in digital learning spaces, an aspect of online learning that I appreciate and value.
The more I wrote and shared, the more comfortable I became, in part due to Tim Brown’s idea that anyone can (and probably should) think like a designer (Brown, 2009). Everyone has something to contribute, and some of the best ideas originate from companies and people that do not design in the way that they were “trained” to, but who think outside the box, take risks, make mistakes and embrace failure. It became exceedingly hard to read about embracing failure and messy first drafts (namely prototyping) and still act like a perfectionist when it came to presenting my work and train of thought to the class. A key theme I noticed in all reading, and videos throughout the semester was that innovative design usually originates in business or learning environments where individuals are given the space and flexibility to act, think, react and behave a little chaotically (Catmull, 2014).
Suddenly, I began to notice parallels and interconnections between entrepreneurship, librarianship, social media and design thinking. A main interconnection/parallel was how all four things are rooted firmly in servicing an identified need. I noticed as well, many connections between being an online community manager, and managing/designing a digital space for learning. Each subsequent blog post I wrote for class felt easier to write and to post. I grew less afraid of publically failing and branched out to try new things (Crowder, 2014). As the weeks progressed, I discovered that although I do not have a background in teaching or design architecture, I still had the capacity to not only think like a designer but apply design thinking to almost every aspect of my professional life.
With design, as well as social media, librarianship and entrepreneurship, I realized how important it is to listen to the needs of your target audience (Brown, 2009). I have learned how little you actually need in order to be disruptively innovative (Leadbeater & Wong, 2010). You can repurpose materials you have lying around, or create awe-inspiring spaces using nothing but imagination and a big helping hand from nature, like John Hardy’s Green School. (Tobias, 2011.) I’ve learned the value of immersive experiences and empathy in the world of designing spaces for learning (Brown, 2009). I sincerely hope to hone the skills I’ve picked up in INF536, see opportunities to implement learning spaces in non-traditional places, continuously wrestle with the importance of a balanced relationship between space and pedagogy, and ultimately never stop thinking like a designer.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.
Catmull, E. (2014, April). Inside the Pixar braintrust, Fast Company. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcompany.com/3027135/lessons-learned/inside-the-pixar-braintrust
Crowder, E. (2014). Blog task 4: creative coffee morning. Retrieved from: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lizcrowder/2014/09/20/blog-task-4-creative-coffee-morning/
Tobias, R. (2011, May 31) A day at the Green School. TED.com. Retrieved from: http://blog.ted.com/2011/05/31/a-day-at-the-green-school-in-bali/