I’m fortunate to work in a beautiful building (see below). Unfortunately, that building is also one of the most confusing buildings I’ve ever been in. The doors pictured above are a big part of the problem. These doors don’t look very welcoming, do they? In a university context, I’d guess that they lead to a large lecture hall or some other place that you probably shouldn’t just barge into. One time a group of students asked me how to get to a classroom. After I directed them through these doors, one of them said, “Oh, I thought this would be like the boiler room or something.”
These doors separate the foyer of the building from the hall of classrooms. Everyone who uses the main entrance/exit must go through these doors. Not only is this confusing to new students, but, given that it’s a high traffic area, you never know when someone on the other side of the door is going to open it in your face. I’d say 1 out of 4 times that I use these doors, I nearly ran into someone.
All of these problems could be fixed by adding windows to the doors. I’m sure there were reasons that this style of door was installed here, probably for security. After all, there’s really no reason that there should be doors here at all; they just separate a foyer from a hallway (maybe to keep the A/C from escaping during Georgian summers?). Even a little bit of transparency, however, would greatly improve the everyday use of these doors.
Connection to learning: I’m a huge fan of transparency in education. Most instructors spend a lot of time deciding what to teach and how to teach it, and I think students should be clued into those decisions. A bit of transparency lets the students know what the instructor, as an expert, values. For example, there’s a difference between telling students that they’ll complete a research project and telling them that they’ll complete a research project because it will demonstrate knowledge of _____ and improve their skills at _____. In the latter example, students know what the goals of the assignment are. Like with the doors, zero transparency keeps new students from knowing where they’re going and makes everyday navigating potentially hazardous. I believe the more transparency that can be added, the better.
For more information about the bad design series or more bad design posts, visit the bad design series introduction.