Posted in change, design thinking, Digital learning space, Library service, Teaching and Learning, website design

Change ahead: Designing a new online space – Part 1


Change Ahead

This year we begin yet another change process in the iCentre.  We have always maintained that our digital space, the iCentre website, is as important for our students as our physical space.  The website, enhanced by social media streams such as Facebook and Twitter, resulted from an initial project that aimed to move the digital services offered by the school library out of the static Learning Management System (LMS) used by the college.  This website is now five years old and we’re not planning to just renovate the space, we are about to embark on designing and building a brand new space.  In the five years since we built the first website, we have learned much about digital learning spaces and library 2.0 services.  Simultaneously,  information and digital environments have continued to change.  It is with much excitement and a little trepidation that we embark on this new project and we plan to share the story as the plot unfolds.

At the recent Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  We plan to blog and share the story of our journey into designing a new digital learning space as we progress.

An analysis of the first design project that resulted in the existing website found that both good practice points and missed opportunities were evident in the team’s process.  These points need to be carefully considered as we embark on this new journey and will be published over two blog posts.

The good practice points identified in the first design process included:

  •      Pedagogically driven change

The ‘Library to iCentre’ project undertaken to, improve digital literacies, support the inquiry learning framework used by the college, and to create new learning connections, demonstrates a process that is underpinned by pedagogy which is central to informing learning space design (Hunt, Huijser and Sankey, 2012, p.183).

  •      Consciously adopt a beginner’s mindset

The team’s practice of positioning themselves as learners is a useful approach because it engages them in activities to explore, inform and inspire new ideas at the important front-end or ‘fuzzy’ stage of the design process (Sanders & Stapers, 2008, p.6).

  •      Learning from others

The enthusiasm by the team to gather ideas from others by exploring exemplary spaces both within and beyond educational examples is useful (Oblinger, 2005, p.16) and shows a capacity for divergent thinking (Brown, 2009, p.111).  As digitized school library services become more mainstream, the pool of examples on which to draw a variety of ideas will grow.

  •      Practice of storytelling

The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond, with networks, conferences, and online environments has valuable outcomes.  It communicates the vision for change to the college leadership and community, invites collaboration and enhances the value of the change (Brown, 2009, p.22).

  •      Reflect institutional values

The cohesion between the vision of this project and the institution’s strategic plan is important as these connections ensure change is valued and supported by the college’s leadership (Hunter, 2006, p.64).

  •      Continued ‘entrepreneurial’ championing of the product

The Teacher-Librarians leading this project continue to champion the new virtual space within and beyond the college.  This proactive publicizing of the idea provides the perseverance that is necessary throughout a project in order to see the vision through to reality (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Horsby, 2012, p.111).

  •      Iterative design and continuous improvement

The team’s view that new learning space is only the beginning of an ever-changing process and that iCentre v20 is fast approaching demonstrates a successful mindset for design which values the ongoing assessment of learning spaces, resulting in iterative design, and continuous improvement (Oblinger, 2005, p.18).

  •      Concentrate on holistic rather than technology centred approaches

The new spaces designed in this project were not only about incorporating technology, but also about creating new patterns of social and intellectual interaction.  This is an important philosophy that assists in maintaining learner-centred and education-centred change (Istance & Kools, 2013, p.47).

As we work on our new design project, we will need to ensure that these good practice points are repeated.


Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking creates new alternatives for business and society. New York: Collins Business.

Hunt, L., Huijser, H., & Sankey, M. (2012). Learning spaces for the digital age: Blending space with pedagogy. In M. Keppell (Author), Physical and virtual learning spaces in higher education: Concepts for the modern learning environment (pp. 182-197). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Hunter, B. (2006). The eSpaces study: Designing, developing and managing learning spaces for effective learning. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 12(2), 61-81. doi: 10.1080/13614530701330398

Istance, D., & Kools, M. (2013). OECD work on technology and education: Innovative learning environments as an integrating framework. European Journal of Education, 48(1), 43-57. doi: 10.1111/ejed.12017

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.

Oblinger, D. (2005). Leading the transition from classrooms to learning spaces. Educause Quarterly, 1, 14-18. Retrieved September 27, 2014, from

Sanders, E. B., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 4(1), 5-18. doi: 10.1080/15710880701875068




As the Curriculum Leader of the Mt Alvernia iCentre, my key areas of interest are: Teaching and Learning The information landscape Digital Literacy Digital citizenship Literature Reading

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