Having just submitted the final assessment piece for Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU, I thought I would share my reflections on the subject and learning that took place.
As a Teacher-Librarian, the design of physical and virtual learning spaces and the impact of these on learners and learning has been a key focus of my practice. In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote:
“The three areas I am interested in are the design of school libraries for learning, classroom design for learning and digital learning spaces.”
This highlights that when I began the subject, I thought I was going to learn about spaces. What I learned instead was that design is all about the user and design thinking has the potential to solve problems, connect people and change learning. Throughout the modules of this course, I have found the concepts of design thinking unfamiliar and challenging and this is reflected in my blog posts throughout the semester. For the purposes of this reflection, I would like to address how this course has challenged my understanding of design and its place in education, informed my professional practice and led to professional growth.
Challenged my understanding of design and its place in education
The literature critique for assessment item 4 was perhaps the most challenge task I have undertaken in my academic life. If I had any naive beliefs that design was about architecture, products or soft furnishings (which I did), this research set me straight. The feedback on my essay was that I difficulty articulating my point – very true – I struggled the whole way through. However, I emerged from that assignment with a new understanding that by involving students in design and developing their capacity for design thinking, possibilities emerge for changing learning, solving problems and building creativity.
Informed my professional practice
The course work for Designing Spaces for Learning has also informed my professional practice. A project I have dedicated much time to, is the change of virtual learning space investigated for the case report in this subject. The opportunity to step back and think critically about the motivations, processes and external pressures on our team throughout the project to date has provided valuable insight into both our successes and missed opportunities. The recommendations will be passed on to the team and broader partners for consideration and discussion about how we might better lead and manage future developments in this project. Another example of how this subject is informing my professional practice is that it has encouraged me to investigate the possibility of a local creative coffee meet-up. Like many of the tasks in this course, I found organising the coffee morning for blog task 4, required a step outside of my comfort zone and I approached it with a “just do what you have to” attitude. However, since completing the task, I have thought about the possibilities of this activity many times and during the recent school holidays organised coffee with some colleagues to discuss future possibilities for this type of get together.
Led to professional growth
Professional growth has certainly been an outcome of completing Designing Spaces for Learning. The environments we were encouraged to participate in, the resources and readings provided and the assessment items all extended my knowledge and have began to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian. In particular, the reflective blogging has been a fruitful process for me. An activity that has stayed with me was blog task 2 which required us to observe and draw part of our daily routine. At the time I found this extremely challenging as it was far removed from previous academic tasks I have been asked to undertake. Needless to say, it forced me to look at a situation in a completely new and creative way and the result was that a very stressful part of my daily routine has been resolved. In other words, design thinking has solved a problem in my day and made one small part of my world a better place. This learning is mirrored in the literature read for this course and evidenced in a blog post I wrote entitled ‘Does design matter’. In this post, I quoted Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby who state that design aims “to meet the needs of communities and make the world a better place” (2012). Thus, the proclamations by designers such as Brown, Bennett, and Parvin became real possibilities.
As the subject draws to a close, the challenges and opportunities afforded have been many and have already started to impact my working life. In particular, I believe these understandings need to be translated to practice so that design thinking will change both the spaces and people we work with. I have not only had the privilege to read about design thinking but have also experienced the possibilities of learning through design and look forward to extending this to students so they are better equipped to solve problems creatively in a future that will require it.
Bennett, P. (2007, May 16). Design is in the details. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0O003kufA&feature=youtu.be
Brown, T. (2009, July). Designers — think big! Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big
Kuratko, D. F., Goldsby, M. G., & Hornsby, J. S. (2012). The design thinking process. In Innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking (pp. 103-123). Boston: Pearson.
Parvin, A. (2013, February). Architecture for the people by the people. Retrieved October 07, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/alastair_parvin_architecture_for_the_people_by_the_people
Stower, H. (2014). IPractice: Learning and Connecting. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/ipractice/