INF536: Critical Assessment

Looking back on this last semester, I can only sum it up by saying that change, beauty and progress in thought and learning is not only wrought by avalanche and volcano but also by the constant erosion by drops of water and bits of sand.  That combined with space and time.


In the same way, this course has offered me space and time for learning by:

  • Forcing me to carve time out of a schedule that would otherwise be occupied by busyness
  • Exposing me to a variety of ideas, research, thoughts and concepts that I wouldn’t otherwise naturally encounter in my day-to-day professional or personal life
  • Making me DO things I’d otherwise shrug off as impossible (Bailey, 2015b)
  • Giving me a framework within which to analyse problems “wicked” and otherwise (Bailey, 2015a, 2015g; Buchanan, 1992; IDEO, 2014)
  • Grouping me with a set of people who are all approaching the course from a different context and set of experiences and knowledge
  • Creating a virtual (and at times physical) space for us to encounter each other and comment and share our learning – both formally and informally (“#INF536 – Twitter Search,” n.d.; McIntosh & CSU, n.d.)


It has be quite an experience, and, as someone once said – it’s not so much what you’ve learnt as what you remember. What has left a lasting impression is design thinking, the value of constraints and learning at the extremes.


As someone new to the education field, new to librarianship, operating under all kinds of constraints, the design thinking concepts of inspiration, ideation and implementation (Brown, 2008; Brown & Katz, 2011; IDEO, 2014) fits perfectly with that other concept of living and teaching in constant beta (Schroeder, 2013). As a fairly grounded, not terribly artistically (of the drawing and painting type) creative person this is the aspect of “design” that appeals to me as it is achievable with observation, thought, logic and research. However it also demands that I embody the principle of risk-taking and not just pay lip service to it sprouting it to my PYP (IB primary year program) students at regular intervals. There is something very empowering in the process of observing, thinking, asking, making small or not so small changes, and failing or succeeding, learning and trying again without fear and knowing that every time again one is moving every so slightly forward and nudging one’s students in the same direction.


My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint
My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint


Constraints, rather than hampering us, force rethinking options, relooking at alternatives and collaborating, asking, connecting in a way that is not always necessary when one is overwhelmed by choice and abundance. As documented in my blog posts: design – space, thinking and time 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Bailey, 2015c, 2015d, 2015e, 2015f) operating within the constraints of limited time, no budget, a small and almost unalterable space can result in creative solutions that are as ad hoc as they are successful.




We can learn a lot about education and learning in extreme conditions (Chohan, 2011; Leadbeater & Wong, 2010). But more immediate and accessible are the extremes in our own communities the students at the challenging edges of all the continuums we create. The teachers and parents who don’t toe some invisible line.



The name of my series of blog posts also reflects my thoughts about designing learning spaces. It’s not just about the physical space, it’s about reconstructing how we think about time and what we do in it, and carving out a presence physically, virtually and even emotionally. No matter how beautifully our surroundings have been designed, how much money has been spent on the furnishings and fittings, how much time is built into the curriculum if our students do not feel safe and have a willing and open space in their hearts and minds for learning, nothing will make an impact.



Bailey, N. (2015a, July 23). On the box, off the box – INF536 Blog Post 1 [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015b, August 7). Blog 2: Observation – Dog Walk [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015c, August 23). Design – space, thinking and time (1) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015d, September 6). Design – space thinking and time (2) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015e, September 20). Design – space, thinking and time (3) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015f, October 4). Design – space, thinking and time (4) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Bailey, N. (2015g, October 11). INF536: Assessment 4 – Part A: Applying spatial changes and design thinking to middle school reading – a three phase collaborative approach [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–92. Retrieved from

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design: Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383.

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21. Retrieved from

Chohan, A. (2011, January 25). Learning without frontiers [Video file]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

IDEO. (2014). Design thinking for libraries – a toolkit for patron-centered design (p. 121). IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from

#INF536 – Twitter Search. (n.d.). [Twitter]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Leadbeater, C., & Wong, A. (2010). Learning from the extremes. CISCO. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from

McIntosh, E., & CSU. (n.d.). Discussion Board – S-INF536_201560_W_D @CSU [Discussion Forum]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Schroeder, M. (2013, November 6). Living in beta [Video file]. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from





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