• Hyacinth Steele

Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast

The rapidly escalating need for changes and transformations to how we lived life that Covid-19 threw at us touched every area of life as we knew it pre-Covid - socialising, teaching and learning, buying and selling and worshipping at places of worship. Teaching and learning practice at schools and universities were not exempt from these disruptions and keenly felt the impact of each wave of new infections. As a learning designer, rapid design and skill building took on new meaning and calls for action that married these urgent new demands with a human centered approach to design that responded to needs of academics and students, now off campus in isolation, to complete the semester amidst concerns for health, social isolation and toilet paper.

'Curiouser and curiouser!'

Once the decision was made for our team to 'work from home' and we were allowed to travel more than 50kms, we relocated to our home in Stanthorpe. Zooming with the academics that I support and joining team meetings with the team I am a part of via Teams, my thoughts turned to the insights offered by the SAMR model as I exercised by human centered design muscles under very different conditions.

The challenge of supporting the rapid redesign of mainly face to face teaching approaches into digital offerings has made me think more circumspectly about how I engage in the phases of Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation. I recently 'restumbled' again upon the blog Holtthink and the metaphor of SAMR and Starbucks coffee. Yes, you guessed, the metaphor of transforming analog to digitally transformed teaching and learning with the myriad variations and permutations of coffee offered by Starbucks.

So, returning to my human centered design approach and wrestlings with challenges Covid-19 has brought to my door, there was the dawning of a realisation that my design conversations were not always based on shared understandings. The glare of the obvious can temporarily blind us. Project design goals are easily lost in translation. Manager to designer, designer to designer, designer to academic. It became obvious that when I was thinking Modification the academic was thinking Substitution or given tight project timelines I was thinking Augmentation while an academic was imagining Redefinition.


So in short I didn't want my design conversations to have the same flavour as the one between Humpty Dumpty and Alice.

Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

Alice: “The question is, whether you can make words mean different things.”

Indeed Alice that is exactly the question! Refining design conversations that we share so they do not mean different things!

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