Coming from an education technology background, I brought to this subject an enthusiasm for how technology has the potential to change learning spaces or even redefine what they are. The rapid evolution of digital technologies since the turn of the millennium is often described as a disruptive force in education. However, the impact that should be a metaphorical cannon ball in a swimming pool feels more like a pebble. I admit struggling to understand why schools and teachers are not jumping on this potential in their learning spaces. Through my participation in this subject I have come to understand several big ideas that have renewed my perspective on this.
The first of which is around education as a culture and the culture of change itself. Classroom technology practices find themselves competing with an ingrained culture of education that has existed for over 100 years. This culture is perpetuated through the learning spaces themselves. Making a change to this space, challenges the very culture within education. This is therefore not a change that everyone is going to find easy or even want to attempt as changing a classroom is changing your beliefs. Learning spaces themselves have the power to influence change. This then raises the issue of who decides on what the learning spaces should look like. In a lot of school design, it is not often the people that use the space.
This then links with the second big idea of the design process and design theory. I had a severe underappreciation of what deeply exploring a design thinking model can do to the outcomes of a design process. In Assessment Item 3, the critical analysis section of my case study revealed that even as an end user, you can get the design wrong by not considering design theory or applying an appropriate design model into your project. Finding the place where culture and design theory intersect is where great design can happen. I think this has to be about more than designers consulting with end users. If spaces can change pedagogy then it should be teachers that decide on what that pedagogy is. If that pedagogy then changes how learners learn, then the learners must also be at the centre of the design process. This is why processes such as Design Thinking, with a human-centred approach, have such a strong application in the design of spaces for learning.
Change takes time and so producing design that is going to influence change needs to take time also. In this digital age of education, the endpoint is unknown and so exploring many different iterations is not a bad thing. While we can apply ideas based on our best thinking at the time, we need to understand that classroom spaces right now are going on a journey. The future is fuzzy and that is pretty exciting!
Hello, my name is Laura. I am currently studying my Masters of Education, specialising in Information Technologies. I work as the Head of Digital Learning and Innovation at an independent school in Queensland. I invite you to connect with me on social media via the links below.