Module 8 has been a quick study for me, and one that I plan to return to in more depth at a later time. This last post will be more of an informal reflection, based on my pondering and experiences.
Maker-spaces are community spaces, and yet many schools are not extending these facilities beyond the school doors to welcome the community. Yet, maker-spaces seem to be included when considering the design or redesign of school libraries. I believe it is an area that may become a ‘fad’ unless deep thinking and research has taken place as to why a maker-space needs to be created in a library space. Libraries are hybrid and community spaces, so certainly there is a doorway to provide for such extracurricular activities. Yet, I am also drawn to a colleague’s reflection [Nadine] about not jumping on the bandwagon. I tend to agree. I do not think the connections have been drawn when our key responsibilities as librarians circles information/digital literacies and literature. Yes, maker-spaces do have a place within the school environment, but within libraries?
As for what lessons we can draw from Leadbeater and Wong’s work that I can transfer to my library space and learning community. I agree with their four basic strategies of improving, reinventing, supplementing and transforming. I do not believe these strategies need to be necessarily on a large scale.
It is interesting that within the first criteria of improving the authors note that ‘ The lesson of high-performing schools systems ….you have to attract, train, and motivate good teachers and provide them with good facilities to work in’.
When I reflect, ‘reinventing school by using technology more creatively and providing more personalized, collaborative, creative, and problem-solving learning, in schools that have many informal spaces for learning as well as classrooms’ (Leadbetter & Wong, 2010, iii) is a but not necessarily found in practice. Many schools are not utilising informal spaces as well as they could. This is definitely an area where schools could prototype and test though. I am thinking of a long corridor (non air conditioned) where students ‘hang’ in the morning prior to classes beginning. Teachers and leaders do not observe user practice closely enough, generally speaking. If they did, they would try to enact change
What is not immediately transferable to my own learning community is the transformational element. Schools are largely traditional, and do not provide for reliance on peer to peer learning rather than formal teachers; creating spaces for learning where they are needed rather than just using schools; and moving away from formal curriculums (Leadbetter & Wong, 2010, iv). The school environment does not encourage self-organised learning. As the authors note, ‘Innovation can be either sustaining or disruptive. A sustaining innovation improves an existing organization or product by making it more effective’ (Leadbetter & Wong, 2010, 2). This is definitely what we see in our schools, not disruptive innovation. I think the latter places most leadership outside of their comfort zone, and very few will take the leap to make such changes as personalised timetables, no exams, classes organised by ability and interest rather than age and more peer to peer teaching and learning (Leadbetter & Wong, 2010, 3).
It causes one to pause to consider that schools were originally disruptive innovations and yet have remained tenaciously within their original parameters, and have long since lost that edge but have become the ‘status quo’.
Yet through this transformation, the underlying logic of schooling has remained remarkably tenacious. As David Tyack and Larry Cuban put it (1995): “The basic grammar of schooling, like the shape of classrooms, has remained remarkably stable over the decades. Little has changed in the ways that schools divide time and space, classify students and allocate them to classes, splinter knowledge into ‘subjects’ and award grades and credits as evidence of learning.” (Leadbetter & Wong, 2010, 7).
The authors do acknowledge that certain systems such as the Finnish educational system have initiated great change, along with transformational and innovation change within small pockets of educational environments. This document reminds me of how Redesigning for Education (GELP, 2012) tracks how little is actually changing, in spite of the need for it. Schooling is a push (not pull) system with mandatory attendance, testing, and national curriculums. I doubt whether there can be widespread change.
McIntosh prompts us to look beyond our own close perspectives and school environments – to look outward, in able to learn and then apply to our own situations. It is good advice. A fellow librarian when discussing the process of designing the senior library acknowledged that she spent a year visiting and researching public libraries, not school libraries, to arrive at a design for their new library space. We do need to take a wider perspective, and take ownership of our learning spaces. We cannot leave it to the architects, without including the extreme edges, of either spaces outside of our educational institutions.
I am going to finish by leaving with these questions from McIntosh (coursework) to return to another day:
- What role might sustainability have in the process that leads to learning space design, and in the end design itself?
- What lessons “from the extremes” of learning space design might have a role in transforming spaces in more conventional learning environments?
- What lessons from these physical environments from elsewhere might transfer well to the design of digital spaces?
Innovation Unit for the Global Education Leaders’ Program. (2013). Redesigning Education: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe (Kindle ebook ed.). Seattle, Washington, USA: BookTrope. Retrieved 2015, from http://goo.gl/CO9935
Leadbeater, C. (2007). Remixing cities, CEOs for cities. Retrieved from:http://www.ceosforcities.org/pagefiles/Remixing_Cities_Final.pdf
Leadbeater, C. (2010, April). Education Innovation in the slums, TED.com. Retrieved from:http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_education
Leadbeater, C. & Wong, A. (2010). Learning from the extremes. Cisco. Retrieved from:http://www.cisco.com/web/about/citizenship/socio-economic/docs/LearningfromExtremes_WhitePaper.pdf
Leadbeater, C. (2012). Innovation in education: Lessons from pioneers around the world. WISE.