Monday, 13 August 2018

I Used Design Thinking to Transform my Learning Space - Part 3 - Ideation

I spent quite a long time trying to understand what my biggest problem was in my classroom. I mean, STEAM is fun and kids love it but I kept wondering if I was doing everything I could to fully engage all of my students and if the working environment was really promoting this engagement. This lead me to decide on my problem statement: How might we design the learning space to better engage all students?

Before I began thinking of ideas, I have had to consider the effect my ideas might have on others. In my role, I share a teaching space, so it’s important that I discuss any new thoughts with my team teaching partner. Barrett (2015) talks about being more open to ideas from others early in the process and this has definitely been the case with me. That dialogue between my teaching partner and I has allowed me to talk through my ideas and see them from a different perspective. It has also given me a chance to gain feedback throughout the entire process. Ultimately, it’s not only me that has to be happy with the changes.

I have also had to consider any emotional blocks that could stifle the process for me. Motivation has been one block – the act of beginning to consider the problem statement. I can also be guilty of using the first workable idea that I come across and not trying any others. Letting these things get in the way can prevent me from reaching my creative potential (von Thienen, Clancey, Corazza, & Meinel, 2018, p. 25). To combat this block, I have purposely done things to strike a balance (Barrett, 2016), such as forcing myself to walk away and do something else. This lets my idea sit for a while and allows me to look at it with fresh eyes when I return. I have also purposely done things at the very end of my work day so that I am forced to leave it overnight. One example where I have done this is after completing my ‘how might we’ statement – I wanted to really let it sink in and process it before continuing on the process.
When we follow the Design Thinking process, the Ideation stage is all about testing a variety of different ideas to choose from (Stanford, n.d.). I had to think about what ideas I could test and then how to test them. I took some ideas that spoke to me and began the process with the Lotus Blossom Technique (see below). I took my ‘How Might We’ statement and broke it up into five key areas of my learning space that I believe have an effect on student engagement. These ideas were:
  • resources
  • student roles
  • appearance (of the room)
  • room set up
  • zones 

From these five ideas, I looked at each one more specifically and brainstormed some questions and ideas relating to each one. I like how this technique helps to organise my ideas in a way that allows me to explore a number of different possibilities (, n.d.). It also allowed me to see the links between each idea, such as the links between zones and room setup.
I then tried my own version of ‘Crazy Eights’ (Barrett, 2016) which I have coined my ‘Sensible Three’. Why three you ask? Well, I struggled to think of eight different ideas for my classroom and had to be realistic with the amount of time I had to allocate to changing my room around. I also knew that once I changed the room a few times I would likely combine different elements in my final design.
I began with a blank map of my classroom using Butcher’s Paper on my whiteboard. I then used Sticky Notes to represent each piece of movable furniture in my room. I then arranged it so I could consider the room in it’s current state and make any notes before changing anything. This was also a great opportunity to bounce my ideas off of my team teaching partner to ensure that we were in agreeance with the process I was about to undertake.
The Ideation stage has been a great time for me to think about my ideas, talk about them and act upon them. I have been challenged to slow myself down so that I am carefully considering each idea as it comes up and to talk each idea through with someone else so that I know it has clarity. I am very lucky to have such a large learning space with great furniture and resources. This makes me wonder how others with traditional rectangle modular furniture might tackle this same problem. Have you followed the design process to redesign your learning space? I’d love to hear about it or, even better, see photos of what you have done.
Barrett, T. (2015, February 10). Hold Your Ideas Lightly. Retrieved August 1, 2018, from
Barrett, T. (2016, January 2). 3 Activities to Help Your Team: Generate, Develop and Judge Ideas. Retrieved July 27, 2018, from
Barrett, T. (2016, January 13). Generating Ideas and the Force v Incubate Balance. Retrieved August 1, 2018, from (n.d.). Creative thinking technique: Lotus Blossom. Retrieved August 8, 2018, from
Stanford (n.d.). An Introduction to Design Thinking: Process Guide. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from
von Thienen, J. P., Clancey, W. J., Corazza, G. E., & Meinel, C. (2018). Theoretical Foundations of Design Thinking. Part I: John E. Arnold’s Creative Thinking Theories. In H. Plattner, C. Meinel, & L. Leiffer (Eds.), Design Thinking Research: Making Distinctions: Collaboration versus Cooperation (pp. 13 – 40). Springer.

1 comment:

  1. You are so creative! I can't deny that. Keep it up, friend!