Critical Reflection on the Design Process

Return to Proposed Learning Space Design

Design Thinking encourages designers to think ‘How could this be better?’ (Heppell, 2019).  While the design process incorporated user feedback at all stages and was thus responsive to user needs, there are a number of ways that the process could have been improved, especially in terms of technology and broader consideration of possible constraints.

It is important to decide on learning and design principles before specific tools for the space (Johnson & Lomas, 2005).  The proposed learning space design is responsive to community principles, needs and expectations and reflects the institutional vision and Reconciliation Action Plan, but there is scope to further consider the integration of technology within the space to facilitate the learning principles (Johnson & Lomas, 2005; MCEETYA, 2008).  Technology was not identified as an issue for teachers or students in the Define or Empathy phase, but the virtual learning environment is nonetheless an important consideration when designing learning spaces because ideally physical and digital spaces – fused-use environments – should coalesce therefore increasing flexibility in where and when learning can occur (Fox & Lam, 2012; Jamieson et al., 2000; Jisc, 2016).  The pedagogic triangle (pedagogy, technology, space design) or PST framework (pedagogy, space, technology) help to demonstrate the important link technology plays in pedagogy and student engagement which can be enhanced by staff development and training (Oradini et al., 2019; Wilson & Randall, 2012).  When presenting the proposal to school leadership, the technology component must not be overlooked and should play a key role in the initial and ongoing support provided to teachers to ensure that blended learning approaches support autonomous and collaborative student learning (Wilson & Randall, 2012).

While the design is underpinned by contemporary scholarship on the future of learning spaces, the sustainability of the space through life-cycle questions such as how to support, modify, and update the space in a rapidly changing environment could be explored in greater detail (Johnson & Lomas, 2005).  Constraints on the design process include money, organisational structure, and capabilities of users.  It is likely that the design will be supported by school leadership – financially and otherwise – because they have acknowledged that the library spaces need updating, but the data collected will be important to help decision makers make effective decisions about the necessary changes to the space and to overcome constraints based on the politics of the organisation (Tan et al., 2010).  These constraints require costings to be clearly outlined and justified by data analysis and evidence of the needs of the users. The proposal to leadership will need to outline a needs analysis, visualisation of ideas and prototypes, costings and proposed timeline for implementation.  While a whole library refurbishment is envisioned in the long term, the re-design of Area 3 will form part of the first stage of the project whereby evidence of the effectiveness of the changes will be evaluated before more money is spent on other areas of the library in order to minimise design risks (Reeves, 2014).

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