Design the learning space

Why plan and prototype when redesigning spaces?

Whilst the actual design of a new space is exciting and it is tempting to 'get it done' quickly, it is important that the space is developed in a considered way. The process outlined in this toolkit has hopefully led you through some of these steps. Even now, however, it is important that you plan, prototype and test the space carefully before investing heavily in a 'final' product.

Key questions

  • What is the best way to plan the space and who can be involved in this process ?
  • What are the constraints for developing your desired space and how can you overcome these constraints?
  • What do you need to fund for your transformed space and how will you finance it?

How can you design a learning space/s appropriate for your learners' needs?

  1. Identify the space/s that you would like to redesign. This could include:
    • regular classroom
    • outdoor area
    • common room or staffroom
    • library
    • corridors or break-out areas
  2. Observe learning in the space, take photographs of the space, meet in the space with users and discuss the strengths and limitations of the space currently. You may like to consider the following:
    • physical elements of the space itself – light, colour, size, shape, ventilation, 'empty space'
    • furniture – types, flexibility, comfort
    • technology – connectivity and availability/provision of devices
    • other – writable surfaces
  3. Use Design Thinking to design your learning space based on the needs of your users (teachers and students). Refer back to your original design question to ensure you address the needs identified at the beginning of this process.
  4. Develop a plan or prototype for your learning space/s and gather feedback on it before investing. For your prototype, you might like to consider:
    • Paper prototyping - draw an aerial view of the space (remember to draw it to scale - you may be surprised at the proportion of furniture to space!)
    • Desktop prototyping - create a miniature physical space with cardboard or LEGO
    • Digital prototyping - use Google sketchup to create a 3D, scaled design of your space
    • Personas - developing characters to represent key types of learners or teachers can help inform your design from a user perspective
    • Storyboarding - developing a storyboard from the perspective of a learner or teacher can assist map out the learning experience you would like to create in your space/s and inform the design.
  5. Connect with architects, designers, builders, Assets Management Unit and other professionals to evaluate the current space and the possibilities for redesign based on your identified needs.
  6. Seek feedback/feedforward on your design from teachers, students and the community before finalising it. You may like to use some of the processes outlined in the "Building a collective vision" of this toolkit.

Convert the space…  Have fun!

How can you finance the conversion of your learning space/s?

There are a number of ways you can finance the conversion of your space. It obviously depends on your context and circumstances. Options include:

  • Planned maintenance through Assets Management Unit
  • Fundraising and donations from P&C or the community
  • Use of school-based funds in line with Local Schools, Local Decisions
  • Re-using or repurposing existing furniture and resources.

Designing spaces toolkit featuring Design learning space (.jpg 42.45kB)

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