The following are generally accepted techniques and methods to creating a successful planning process for envisioning, implementing, and supporting learning spaces. A good process engages a broad set of stakeholders and perspectives, builds consensus around the design, enables informed decision-making, and helps ensure successful adoption and sustained support.
Building a project team
- Create a cross-sectional steering committee with representatives from different stakeholder groups (e.g.: students, faculty, staff and administrators) and clear roles and responsibilities for members, including determining how decisions will be made.
- Use the project to build partnerships with groups internal and external to your organizations to benefit from their knowledge and perspective and to create the relationships you’ll need to implement and support the project.
Setting realistic goals and expectations
- Align the project expectations for quality and quantity with the available budget and schedule to avoid potential problems later and think about up-front construction costs and long-term operational costs holistically.
- Begin with the end in mind to create a shared understanding of the project goals, what success will look like, and what deliverables will be at project milestones, using mock-ups and past examples.
- Look to the future rather than benchmarking the past. Though good for establishing context, benchmarking current examples/practices are often the quickest way to implement the average idea from years ago (except when you research examples from dissimilar fields, which can be helpful).
- Set a realistic timeline for the project, considering the process for how decisions are made, enabling ample time for review/feedback, and allowing for time to prototype and pilot your ideas.
Enabling channels of user feedback
- Test multiple design options – from the early concepts to later details – because this enables better feedback, enables ideas to compete, and avoids prematurely settling on a direction.
- Plan for an iterative approach in which you can get feedback and refine ideas over time, recognizing that in the early stages, you may need to move fluidly between figuring out what problems you’re trying to solve and reviewing potential solutions since the latter helps clarify the former.
- Communicate concretely, using examples, mock-ups, stories, study trips, or other techniques to make abstract ideas tangible for the project team and stakeholders.
- Provide regular updates to stakeholders, letting them know what will come of their input and gathering feedback on what you’ve done.
- Set up channels for user input along the entire process with multiple modes of access to help bridge the varying interests and build consensus – ie. interactive project website, Facebook community page etc.