Task Furniture in Education - The research, design and development of innovative school furniture for classroom tasks, accommodating the latest technology and responding to new teaching methods.
Most task furniture in schools today is inadequate to meet the postural needs of students. With 88 million in full-time education in Europe alone and in the context of the proliferation of IT in the classroom and advances in teaching methods, posture, health and well-being of students is imperative.
The project emerges from ongoing and previous research undertaken in the Industrial Design Department at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin through its graduate school GradCAM and its international collaborators in the area of school furniture design and analysis. While there is a wide range of student task furniture available on the market today, most of it is inadequate to meet the postural needs of pupils and particularly in the context of the accelerating introduction of advanced classroom information technology.
European studies have found that 60% of school pupils experience back problems by the age of 16. The use of computers at home and in schools has changed the way that children and young adults learn, work and play. Yet, little emphasis has been placed on the health risks that arise from these changes in educational activity. The demand for appropriate school furniture is now urgent and in order to promote the health and well-being of future generations, the best possible school furniture is required. The introduction of European Standards EN1729 in 2006 has led to limited advances in pupil–centred furniture.
The aim of the project is to exploit the opportunity for knowledge transfer and new product development within a consortium of complementary researchers working in the field of Task Furniture in Education. ‘Task Furniture’ here refers to seating, desks and related items used by pupils in schools. The project is conceived and structured to research and develop new and innovative task furniture solutions addressing modern advances in teaching and learning, the integration of technology in the classroom and the postural implications for children and young adults in schools.
The initiative builds upon a strong foundation of the complementary experience and expertise in fields of research of the partners in TFE. In fulfilling the aim, it is intended to significantly narrow the gap between the known postural problems and the responses to them by the designers of the furniture currently available. Existing ergonomic research indicates serious long-term health problems being inflicted on children in our schools. This evidence only serves to highlight the corresponding deficit in design research that would examine creatively the potential for innovative, tested and proven, user-oriented furniture suitable for economic manufacture.
TFE commenced in January 2011 and run for four years. The total value of EU Commission funding is €1.33 million which will be matched by contributions from the partners. The project will be coordinated and led by researchers in NCAD in collaboration with academic and industry partners in Ireland, Germany, Portugal and the USA.
With regard to the discussions about PBL, three important characteristics of PBL can be extracted; the problem, the work process, and the solution, which can be used to distinguish between various theoretical and practical constructions of PBL – regardless initially of whether it is collaborative or cooperative. The three dimensions can then be thought of as stretched between two ends of a continuum between teacher and participant control. These fundamental questions of ownership and control seem also to be more generally applicable in relation to wider debates about social media and learning. The learning design model is based on the collaborative eLearning design (CoED) method. The CoED‑workshop methodology aims to support the design of targeted networked learning. The method scaffolds the design work of practitioners and has been developed and tried out in a number of different settings. Drawing on knowledge and theoretical concepts within the fields of design, systems development and collaborative learning, emphasis is on bringing focus and structure to the early stages of the design process. The method aims to develop design specifications and/or early prototypes within a few hours of starting work.
OULDI-JISC Project Evaluation Report: the impact of new curriulum design tools and approaches on institutional process and design cultures
This report presents research and evaluation undertaken by the OULDI-JISC Project (Open University Learning Design Initiative JISC Project) between 2008 and 2012. In particular, it considers the impact of new curriculum design tools and approaches piloted by the project on institutional processes and design cultures. These tools and approaches include tools for sharing learning design expertise (Cloudworks), visualising designs (CompendiumLD, Module Map, Activity Profile) and for supporting design and reflection in workshops (Facilitation Cards, workshop activities, etc.). The project has adopted a learning design approach so as to help foreground pedagogy and learner experience. Nine pilots have been completed across six UK universities.
Many pedagogical patterns are documented and there are case studies describing their successful application. However, there are still some open questions which might be the reason why these patterns did not get the broad attention they deserve. The main goal of the workshop is to gain a deeper and more grounded understanding of the applicability of the ideas of Christopher Alexander in the field of education.
In his latest work Christopher Alexander describes 15 fundamental properties that make structures more alive and whole. These properties are already described for being applicable in many different domains including education. However, many of these applications seem to be highly speculative and therefore not reliable.
The workshop addresses three main topics.
Topic 1: The meaning of Christopher Alexander's 15 properties for education.
This topic aims at examining the meaning of the 15 properties described by Alexander in The Nature of Order for educational purposes with the focus on one property or a small subset of them. It is hereby important to make this applicability more specific and well-grounded in order to show that indeed the properties are – or are not – applicable. Possible questions to be addressed are:
- Can specific properties be used for designing educational actions and how can this applicability be supported?
- What do the properties mean in the field of education?
- Can we find examples of the properties in successful educational scenarios?
- Does this application still match with the original ideas of Alexander?
Topic 2: The specific volatile structures of educational situations.
A characteristic of patterns in the domain of education is their volatility, because the structures of a pattern instance which evolve based on social interactions are flexible and short-living. It is therefore difficult to document or measure them in a consistent way. Furthermore, the context of educational situations, ranging from short interactions to curriculum design, is always different, which makes the application of patterns less predictable. Possible questions to be addressed are:
- How can educational patterns be documented in a way which takes their volatility into account?
- What consequences does the volatility has for the conscious application of educational patterns?
- Can we generalize these volatile structures in the pattern format at all?
Topic 3: The empirical ground for educational patterns.
Educational situations are generally hard to generalize. Much empirical research in education are case studies which contain (too) many details and are therefore hard to generalize with respect to different educational situations. Other studies mainly contain general pedagogical principles and offer not much help in concrete situations. Patterns can connect these two views, but there still are open questions such as:
- How can educational patterns be empirically justified?
- Which pattern mining methods are appropriate for research in this field?
- As educational situations are highly dependent on their context, how can they be reliably generalized?
The main event of the European Design Innovation Initiative in 2012 will be held on September 17 and 18 in Helsinki, World Design Capital in 2012. The report of the European Design Leadership Board “DESIGN FOR GROWTH AND PROSPERITY” will be presented and discussed during the event
The European Design Leadership Board was established in early 2011 by Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and Industry. Vice President Tajani invited the Leadership Board to provide recommendations on how to enhance the role of design in innovation policy in Europe at the national, regional or local level and to develop a joint vision, priorities and actions to enable design to become an integral part of innovation policies in Europe, in line with the Innovation Union. Over a period of one year, the European Design Leadership Board held seven meetings and a co-design policy workshop with over fifty key stakeholders from government, industry, academia, the design industries and the public sector.
Taking a broad-based view of design, the Leadership Board identified twenty-one policy recommendations, in six strategic areas for design action:
- European design on the global stage
- Design in Europe’s Innovation system
- Design in Europe’s enterprises
- Design in Europe’s public sector
- Design in Europe’s research system
- Design in Europe’s education system
The twenty-one recommendations will be spelled out during the Summit. All participants will receive a copy of the report “DESIGN FOR GROWTH AND PROSPERITY”
The Summit will be hosted by the City of Helsinki and is expected to start at 16.30 on 17 September and to close at 15.30 on 18 September. The audience is limited to 200 participants and will be completed in the order of registration. REGISTER NOW!
The European Design Innovation Blog is constantly updated and provides most recent news about the Summit.
The general themes are: interfaces supporting learning and empirical studies of active learners, and the specific theme is Wiki-inspired collaborative learning systems that combine the best ideas of visual models, end-user modifiable interfaces and collaborative inquiry environments.
Interactive learning environments invite a broad spectrum of participation. On one end of are interactive models of complex phenomena. For example in science learning, simulations of natural and artificial (mechanical, electrical, etc.) phenomena can be an effective way to represent complex relationships underlying a scientific law. On the other end, social learning environments stimulate discussion of ideas and clarification of issues by a process of collaborative inquiry, often guided by more knowledgeable people (e.g. teachers, mentors, and parents). Whereas individual learning refers to the difference between what a learner can perform independently compared to what he or she previously could perform only by guidance (“knowledge in the head”), social learning refers to what a group of learners can produce together as well as the process leading up to it (“knowledge in the world”).
Social media have enabled interactive learning environments to more fully reach the “social end” of the spectrum, whereas advances in user interface and interaction techniques for ubiquitous computing and mobile devices have improved access to and manipulation of models of scientific phenomena. It is when users become content producers and not merely consumers of information and the power and control are shifted from designated experts to a broader network of competent practitioners that the learning potential of social media will be fully realized. Thus, we feel that by combining interactive models with social sharing (or applying wiki principles to interactive learning environments) may prove invaluable in designing collaborative learning systems. In other words we aim for multiple perspectives on collaborative learning as a design activity.
The main focus of the workshop DAILE’13 is to elaborate as well as integrate various computational approaches for analysing and interpreting data from technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environments, thereby serving three goals: (i) improving learning and instruction; (ii) designing learning software; (iii) developing deeper understand of learner and teacher models.
The design of elearning content requires several areas of educational psychology to be integrated. In order to enhance the design process, checklists can be used as a means of formative evaluation. We present a checklist for the design and formative evaluation of elearning modules.
It covers the content, segmenting, sequencing and navigation, adaptation to target audience, design of text and graphics, learning tasks and feedback, and motivation. In the context of a project on designing elearning modules on renewable energies, this checklist was successfully used for providing formative feedback to the developers.
Project WebWise brings together a range of European higher education institutions (from Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia, Greece and Great Britain) active in the field of public health education as well as experts for innovating e-learning, to analyze, experiment and develop innovative learning scenarios within public health education.
The general objective of WebWise is to support the improvement, the quality, the efficiency and the accessibility of Higher Education using the structure of the Bologna process and the innovative methodological collaborative Web 2.0. learning tools.
Within this objective, the project will aim to:
- Identify innovative learning scenarios and learning designs within public health or general health education.
- Suggest and test a number of innovations to improve the learning process within the scenarios
- Identify and elaborate the key improvements from the pilots.
- Recommend how such improvements may be transferred in public health education and to other areas of Higher Education.
- Disseminate recommendations to competent authorities on a national and European level.
- Regulatory bodies
in public health and public health related study programmes.
- Recommendations for optimizing learning scenarios
- Best practices database
Director of the eLearning Papers editorial board, Tapio Koskinen, along with Dr. Gráinne Conole, guest editor of the journal issue n.27 Designing for learning, presented a widely-attended workshop earlier this month at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN in collaboration with Lieve Van den Brande, a Principal Administrator at the DG Education and Culture of the European Commission. Also in attendance was Pierre-Antoine Ullmo, founder of P.A.U. Education.
The session, which had more than 80 participants, was promoted through LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Addressing the new European initiative to overcome the implementation gap of technology in education, the workshop presented material from the new special issue of eLearning Papers, focussing on best practice experiences and concrete examples that demonstrate how good learning design can make a difference.
The event also launched the first tablet version of eLearning Papers. This interactive PDF format, suitable for all tablets, marks a new and exciting direction for the journal. Workshop attendees interacted with the tablet and were able to experiment with its functionality.
Drawing on the material from eLearning papers, the workshop focused on the following issues:
- What are the implications of new social and participatory media for education and how can they be harnessed more effectively to support learning?
- What are the different ways in which learning interventions can be represented?
- How can social networking and other dialogic tools be used to enable teachers to share and discuss their learning and teaching practices, ideas and designs?
- What are the implications for learners, teachers and institutions of new social and participatory media?
- What new pedagogies are emerging as a result of the use of new social and participatory media?
- How are Open Educational Resources being design, used and repurposed?
The workshop opened with an introduction by Tapio Koskinen that discussed the history and current role of eLearning Papers. Tapio is Executive Committee Member of European Distance and e-Learning Network – EDEN, Board member of the Finnish eLearning Centre and Director of the Editorial Board of eLearning Papers. He is currently Head of New Solutions at Aalto Professional Development, extension of Aalto University. Since 1995 he has been participating in the work of several European R&D and training projects. His works include NoE Prolearn roadmapping (FP6) and Time2Learn roadmapping (FP5). In 2011 he was invited as a rapporteur for the Digital Agenda Assembly workshop: “Mainstreaming e-Learning in education and training”.
Next, Lieve Van den Brande, presented the talk: “Creative learning environments: a new European initiative to overcome the implementation gap”. Lieve is a Principal Administrator at the DG Education and Culture of the European Commission. She is responsible for "ICT for learning" both in terms of policies as parts of the Lifelong learning programme. She holds a Ph.D. in educational sciences from the University of Liège and has several degrees in education, psychology and teacher training. Lieve has been working for more than 20 years at the EC: DG Information Society around 'Telematics for Education and Training'; DG Research around social sciences research and now since 4 years at DG EAC on e-Learning and digital competences. Lieve is also a member of the Editorial Board of eLearning Papers.
Afterwards, Gráinne Conole offered a comprehensive presentation of the state of the art on designing for learning. Gráinne is Professor at University of Leicester since September 2011. Previously she was Professor of e-learning in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. Gráinne has research interests in the use, integration and evaluation of Information and Communication Technologies and e-learning and impact on organisational change. Her latest book about Learning Design will be out any time soon. She guest edited the eLearning Papers special issue on Learning Design that will be published in this workshop.
The workshop ended by opening the floor to the audience members for discussion. The eLearning Papers board members were pleased to have the chance to interact with readers and contributers of the journal, and to receive their enthusiastic responses to the tablet format. The board looks forward sharing the journals' new issues and further developments with them, as they arise.