WonderLab

WonderLab designs to...

Reward Attention
We engage the senses through social, embodied and playful moves that drive participation through co-creation. We emphasise resonance and reciprocity to fuel a sense of agency.

Chase Curiousity
We design haptic, visual, experiential encounters to seed motivation. Wonder is anticipatory, inviting a curiousity to explore the never-before-seen through the creative act of prototyping.

Sit with Uncertainty
We create space for wonder and doubt, we design for the discomfort, risks and mystery of not-knowing, in order to practice sitting with the vulnerability that comes with emergence.

Invite Transformation
Together we create new social imaginaries that help surface, critique and envision new habits and practices. We channel intrinsic motivation to find the commitment to be and act in new ways.

Wonderlab is led by MADA Professor Lisa Grocott. Got a question about WonderLab? Get in touch.

We are a co-creative research lab that designs transformative learning encounters.

WonderLab works with the practice of design to shift how people see and act in the world. We collaborate with psychologists, health researchers, architects and education scholars to translate evidence-based research into applied interventions. Our practice-led approach uses ethnographic, participatory and creative methods to design and evaluate perspective-changing encounters.

The lab investigates transformative learning through three intersecting themes:

  • Beliefs, Bias and Mental Models
  • Learner Engagement, Mindset and Agency
  • Co-design Methods for Social Learning

Learning how to unlearn is essential in the paradigm-shifting world we live in. Recognising that transformative learning is not simply a cognitive activity, WonderLab threads research from organizational change, queer and indigenous studies, neuroscience and psychology. Using embodied and experiential modalities we prototype and playtest activities that help people surface faulty mental models and question unchallenged beliefs. Convivial tools help us share diverse lived experiences and story-making, games and futuring methods help activate the promise of new ways of being and doing.

At the core of designing for transformation is the holistic decision to design for emotions, for connection, for empowerment. The contexts for the research varies from supporting teachers’ transition into new learning environments to making visible the ways our biases shape our work or giving students a felt experience of how mindsets matter. What the situated projects share are strategies for undertaking the disorienting yet rewarding work of reframing our self-understanding, beliefs and actions into new habits and practices.

Select an area of investigation to learn more:

We are driven to consider what design brings to the interdisciplinary field of learning. So material thinking is one contribution design has to offer. But if we resist the power constructed around the idea of expert, we also want to privilege different types of knowing. We wonder not just about material thinking, but the co-creative act of making, the stories designed objects can surface.

We believe design has something to offer to how we learn. But we also believe that design has much to learn from other practices.

WonderLab research is...

  • Applied. The design orientation places an emphasis on interventions that translate research into practice.
  • Project-grounded. The research is always in conversation with the socio-cultural context of the situated project and informed by evidence-based research from other disciplines.
  • Interdisciplinary. We practice disciplinary generosity, an openness to critique design hubris and a commitment to interrogating the contribution of design research.
  • Additive. The methodological invitation is to bring prototyping practices, speculative thinking and co-design principles to grounded theory, narrative inquiry, ethnography and participatory action research.
  • Emergent. To make interventions that stick generative design research promotes a culture of learning from failure and prototyping together.
  • Novel. To forge new ways of researching we bring design materials, mindset and methods to adjacent research methodologies.

WonderLab at its heart is a pride of PhD candidates and supervisors from across a range of disciplines, cultures.

The WonderLab PhD cohort brings together an international research collective pursuing doctoral work through Monash University. Candidates are exploring practice-based research topics in design and learning through their individual professional practices. The cohort contribute to one another's research and projects through group collaboration, collective contribution and dissemination of research and a shared commons of tested methods, tools and research resources. Supervision is committed to the whole of the collective as well as individual work. Research is pursued and exhibited to include both the individual practice and collective research components of the cohort.

For more information, visit Graduate research...

WonderLab Researchers

We design games, WonderBoxes, that promote hands-on, minds-on social interaction. These games have been created especially for organisations and communities as a way to give agency to participants to drive their own personal and professional growth. The nature of a game means that the direction, experiences and outcomes are not pre-prescribed. There is no expert determining what is of value to know. The peers contribute to and define the game and the end result. Because of this, the WonderBoxes offer a learning strategy that can be revisited, iterated, shared and mastered over time.

Design positions itself as operating in the realm of potential. Design is all about exploring new ways of doing things so we might craft different futures. We no longer find it relevant to think of a designer as someone who designs for a client but as someone who designs with community. To do this well we need to invite others into the process.

One way we do this at WonderLab is to invite communities to a playdate. We don’t invite people to experience some highly resolved learning experience. We are interested in the playdate as a space for negotiating, exploring, imagining. We invite people to join us in co-creating and critiquing what that half-baked learning experience could become.

To share work that is still in play, that is not-there-yet is to feel vulnerable. Which is a big ask in a public space. Yet it also seems apt. For the verb to wonder is also about being in a state of doubt...to wonder if, to wonder how, to wonder what...

WonderLab designed a series of standalone and integrated Learning Encounters that support the navigation of the ILETC pathway. These meta experiences introduce the four core elements of the study: ILE’s, Deep Learning, Mind Frames and Teacher Change.

The encounters create a social learning context where peers within a school community can come together to navigate the ILE transition. They are informed by evidence-based research through an integration of the lessons from ILETC research and research from interdisciplinary research from education, behaviour change, psychology and design. These learning experiences complement the activities that come from best practices in schools by highlighting experiences that ILETC feels will support this work.

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