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Creating Student Spaces for emancipatory practice
This paper will explore emergent approaches to students and their learning spaces, a project that potentially calls for a reconfiguration or rehabitation of learning spaces that is politically, economically and ecologically sustainable. Our work draws upon the creation of student centred spaces by our Centres for Excellence in teaching and learning (CETL). Our CETLs are rooted in post-1992 universities and have application in shifting contexts – the metropolitan, the rural and increasingly the virtual. These shifts indicate the need to embrace a pedagogic theory and practice formally embodied in models of Place Based learning (Gruenewald 2003) and in a dialogic that fosters criticality through students’ own ontological markers. In practice, this allowed us to challenge what a university can ‘be’ – and how best to promote success within an academy once again going through rapid change.
The literature we focus upon moves from a theoretical framework drawn from the work of Lefebvre (1974) and is broadly located within differing perspectives of space. The first of these focuses on Temple’s (2007) work on new and exciting spaces for students (and staff) to work. Whilst offering much to those seeking inspiration for designing physical spaces, it lacks the pedagogic framework of the ways in which learning can be designed to take place in these (and other) spaces.
Exploring pedagogic space, we find that the idea of tutors have long endeavored to find freedom within the constraints of a formal curriculum, for example, and Eisner’s work from the early 1980s called for creative spaces within which students and tutors could operate.
Discussion as to whether a revolution has occurred (or is imminent) for teaching and learning with the introduction of new technologies within institutional parameters sets the final ‘space’ theme. In the Web 2.0 world, the themes of physical and pedagogic spaces have been drawn into a new debate: what happens when we (and our students) leave our physical presence and start to engage with our learning in cyberspace? The student as an ‘embodied self’, is viewed through the work of authors such as Land, Bayne and Kefka, who broadly consider the body in space as an extension of the physical being, and authors such as Dreyfus, who take an opposite stance.
Our session will conclude with drawing upon some examples of these emergent practices for the classroom, including creative and Inquiry Based Learning, our conference by and for students and developments in second life.
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