University Learning Spaces - Disciplinary Perspectives - Introduction


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Presentation slides for an introduction to a workshop on HE learning spaces.

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  • Image: velcr0, via Flickr, CC-BY
  • Disciplinary Thinking - Learning Spaces Activities: This is a set of PowerPoint slides including a number of images.
  • Images: Jemsweb: Bjornmeansbear: Edinburgh library by learningspaceTK - If we are designing based on supporting student learning, then we have to understand and describe this – and there are differences between disciplines as well as similarities. We look first at some of the general trends that have been identified as informing learning space design in universities. We will then consider whether and how these apply in different disciplines. The images on this slide represent a shift from a transmission model of learning towards one which is active, constructive, conversational, social. There is also a greater awareness of the importance of informal learning and learning outside of formally-designated spaces, perhaps arising from or closely linked with broader concerns in HE about the student learning experience. But what does this actually mean, in practice, in a particular discipline?
  • To support learning one needs a clear idea of what this is – of how students learn and this may vary according to discipline. As an example of looking at a discipline, Scanlon et al review current and recent developments in thinking about how students learn science. “Science” is very broad but they are considering school as well as further and higher education. They note that the understanding of concepts has been the main focus until very recently and active, enquiry-based learning the practice to help students learn. This is in line with the general trend from transmission to active learning model. However, they also note recent increased concern with the the processes of science, with science in the public eye and a general view that learning science ought to be connected to the world outside the classroom. This again is in line with trends outlined in the first slide. Possible discussion: This might be the place for a discussion of whether and how these broad trends are manifest in other disciplines. Are there any other trends related to how students learn in your disciplines? However, this still is not getting to the level where we can describe what students actually do and where, and how the space (physical or virtual) might or might not foster learning. For instance what is “the outside world”? What is the nature of the “enquiries” that students undertake? What facilities do they need for their “active and constructive” learning? In what sense is learning in your discipline “social”? Two activities follow, to think about learning spaces and learning in individual disciplinary contexts.
  • This photograph of Loughborough University Library illustrates the developments that Brown and Long (2006) describe (see next slide) They point out in particular the fact that availablility of food and drink, and flexible furniture have become part of the requirements, that libraries are no longer silent environments. To see how these are developed in across a whole campus, the slides by Jamieson (2011) contain illustrations of developments at the University of Melbourne. Image: Photo by Loughborough University Library,
  • Brown and Long present this table comparing 2006 ideas about student study space with those of previous years. They point out in particular the fact that availablility of food and drink, comfort and flexible furniture have all become part of the requirements. To see how these are developed in practice, the slides byJamieson (2011) contain illustrations.
  • Whereas in the fairly recent past, the main effort in supporting students technically was to provide access to computers and networks, nowadays in many institutions and parts of the world this is almost taken for granted. Instead, the interest of both research and development has shifted to questions about what mix of virtual and physical students need in their learning and how these should be integrated. Devices commonly used: Hand-held devices such as mobile phones, particularly smartphones, with a range of text, audio and video communication options. Tablet devices – larger and providing high resolution display. Separately or integrated with these: camera, audio recorder/player, location finders and maps and a huge range of apps Three examples: Hanson et al.: Mechanical engineering students were able to conduct an experiment using ‘ ReLoad ’ , which stands for “ Remote Labs at a Distance ’ . They worked in a web browser but were able to see a video image of the equipment that they were operating. They worked individually on a task that required them to take multiple readings in order to explain a phenomenon. As well as plotting their own results they were able to compare their results with those of other members of the class. Chatzigavriil: Students of French curated an art exhibition in Second Life (, publicised the exhibition and interacted with virtual visitors. Scanlon et al.: This paper includes summaries of several studies in which students used mobile devices in fieldwork, in museumsand galleries. They illustrate the use of Activity Theory to study mobile learning in a pilot project. The Enhancing Fieldwork website contains links to a number of case studies: Using similar technologies, virtual field trips, extensions of museum visits, exploration of dangerous or inaccessible environments are all possible. Discussion or writing: How do the students in your discipline use physical and virtual spaces and multiple devices? The next two slides, on specialist spaces, and public and professional environments, could be included in this discussion or used as a starting point. Possible activity: with your students, track a piece of coursework through its development from initial brief to submission. Ask students about the places where they worked and the devices that they used.
  • Many disciplines have specialist learning spaces, such as laboratories, studios, performance spaces, computer rooms. For discussion: Is the thinking about learning spaces in general relevant to these places? Has technology had an impact? What factors constrain and influence development and use of specialist learning spaces in your discipline? Images: State Records NSW: Yuya Tamai: University of Exeter: Timitrius: Tea, two sugars:
  • It is important to stress that work placements, field trips and museum visits are not new. They have taken place in the past without these new technologies. However the technologies mentioned in the previous slide have increased the possibilities both for collecting, querying and manipulating data that is collected away from the campus and for communication between the campus and other environments. It might also be worth mentioning another way in which technologies have opened up the campus. The Open Education movement has given rise to a further expansion of the learning space. The growth of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is one example and it can be illustrated by this case study in which a traditional campus-based course was opened up to participants worldwide. An example is this JISC Case study of a University of Coventry photography course: Images: Fotos gov/ba: Daleus, Curmudgeon-at-Large: Tilemahos_E:
  • University Learning Spaces - Disciplinary Perspectives - Introduction

    1. 1. Disciplinary ThinkingLearning Spaces - Introduction University Learning Spaces Image by velcr0, via Flickr, CC-BY 1
    2. 2. Questionshat are the recent trends in design of learningspaces?o these apply to all disciplines?ow have technological developments affectedthinking about learning spaces in HigherEducation?ee also a selection of activities to explore thesequestions: 2
    3. 3. HE Learning Space Design Trendsesigning to help students learnesigning environments for peopleaking advantage of technologicaldevelopmentspening up the academy to the world outside 3
    4. 4. Designing to help students learnJemsweb: Edinburgh library by learningspaceTK Bjornmeansbear: Conceptions of learning have changed: Shift from transmission model of learning towards active and social models Increased awareness of the importance of informal learning 4
    5. 5. Disciplinary learningExample - learning science•Main focus until very recently, how learners develop understanding of concepts • Learning is constructive and active • learners build knowledge rather than receiving it • Knowing (active) rather than possessing knowledge • Enquiry-basedRecently•Increased concern with science processes•Science for citizenship•Public knowledge, museums, media•Science learning should be connected to the world outside the classroom(from Scanlon et al., 2005) 5
    6. 6. Environments for people Loughborough University Library,… And people as part of the environment … 6
    7. 7. Human-centred designDesign requirements need to be drawn up in aparticipatory way, involving a wide range of usersand interests and with learning at the centre. Table 1. Repositioning the Commons (From Brown and Long, 2006) Previously Currently Information downloaded Information created, integrated Individual workstations Social work setting Isolated support delivery Integrated support Students only Faculty too 7 x 12 access 7 x 20 access “No talking!" Whiteboards abound No food Cybercafé 7
    8. 8. Developments in digital technologiesConnected and mobile Questions•Hand-held and •What mix of physical andportable devices virtual space?•Virtual environments •How are they integrated?•Remote access Case studies•Wireless •Remote laboratories (Hanson et al. 2009) •Curating virtual exhibition (Didiot-Cook, &communication Chatzigavriil, 2009) •Mobile fieldwork (Scanlon et al., 2006) •See also: 8
    9. 9. Specialist spacesHave the trendsdescribed in theprevious slidesaffected specialistdisciplinary spaces? Yuya Tamai: University of Exeter: 9@N02/6859495998/ Timitrius:State Records NSW: octis_silentium/4693398671/ Tea, two sugars: 9
    10. 10. Opening up the Academy Learning in professional environments and public spacesFotos gov/ba: Daleus, Curmudgeon-at-Large: Tilemahos_E: Wireless communication networks, increased processing power and portable devices provide more possibilities for collecting, examining and manipulating data and better communication between the campus and learning environments outside. A MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) can bring professionals into the university virtual space to interact with registered students. 10
    11. 11. Referencesrown, Malcolm and Long, Philip (2006) Trends in Learning Space Design., H., and Chatzigavriil, A. (2009) A short description of the LSE Frenchexhibition in Second life can be found at, B., Culmer, P., Gallagher, J., Page, K., Read, E., Weightman, A., Levesley, M.(2009) ReLOAD: Real Laboratories Operated at a Distance, IEEE Transactions onLearning Technologies, Vol. 2, No. 4, October-December 2009,, Eileen, Jones, Ann, Waycott, Jenny. Mobile technologies: prospects fortheir use in learning in informal science settings (2005) Journal of InteractiveMedia in Education (JIME), http://www-
    12. 12. Learning Resource MetadataField/Element Value:Title Disciplinary Thinking - Learning Spaces: IntroductionDescription Presentation slides for an introduction to a workshop on HE learning spacesTheme Learning SpacesSubject HE - EducationAuthor Jane Hughes & Colleen McKenna: HEDERA, 2012Owner The University of BathAudience Educational developers in accredited programmes & courses in higher education.Issue Date 20/04/2012Last updated Date 03/07/2012Version FinalPSF Mapping A1, A4, K3, K4License Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. ukoer, education, discthink, disciplinary thinking, hedera, university of bath, omac,Keywords learning spaces, classroom design, mobile learning, e-learning, learning environment, student experience, learning technologies, e-learning 12