Distributed Spaces for Learning


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Distributed Spaces for Learning

  1. 1. Physical and VirtualLearning Spaces inHigher Education:Concepts for the ModernLearning EnvironmentMike KeppellCharles Sturt University, AustraliaKay SouterLa Trobe University, AustraliaMatthew RiddleLa Trobe University, Australia
  2. 2. Senior Editorial Director: Kristin KlingerDirector of Book Publications: Julia MosemannEditorial Director: Lindsay JohnstonAcquisitions Editor: Erika CarterDevelopment Editor: Michael KillianProduction Editor: Sean WoznickiTypesetters: Keith Glazewski, Natalie Pronio, Milan Vracarich, Jr.Print Coordinator: Jamie SnavelyCover Design: Nick NewcomerPublished in the United States of America by Information Science Reference (an imprint of IGI Global) 701 E. Chocolate Avenue Hershey PA 17033 Tel: 717-533-8845 Fax: 717-533-8661 E-mail: cust@igi-global.com Web site: http://www.igi-global.comCopyright © 2012 by IGI Global. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or distributed inany form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without written permission from the publisher.Product or company names used in this set are for identification purposes only. Inclusion of the names of the products orcompanies does not indicate a claim of ownership by IGI Global of the trademark or registered trademark. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataPhysical and virtual learning spaces in higher education: concepts for the modern learning environment / Mike Keppell, KaySouter, and Matthew Riddle, editors. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Summary: “This book documents real-world experiences of innovators in higher education who have redesigned spaces forlearning and teaching, including physical, virtual, formal, informal, blended, flexible, and time sensitive factors”--Providedby publisher. ISBN 978-1-60960-114-0 (hardcover) -- ISBN 978-1-60960-116-4 (ebook) 1. College environment. 2. Classroomenvironment. 3. Virtual reality in higher education. 4. Blended learning. I. Keppell, Mike, 1961- II. Souter, Kay, 1952- III.Riddle, Matthew, 1969- LB2324.P47 2012 378.1’01--dc22 2011014040British Cataloguing in Publication DataA Cataloguing in Publication record for this book is available from the British Library.All work contributed to this book is new, previously-unpublished material. The views expressed in this book are those of theauthors, but not necessarily of the publisher.
  3. 3. 1 Chapter 1 Distributed Learning Spaces: Physical, Blended and Virtual Learning Spaces in Higher Education Mike Keppell Charles Sturt University, Australia Matthew Riddle La Trobe University, AustraliaABSTRACTThis chapter examines distributed and personal learning spaces across the spectrum of physical,blended and virtual learning spaces in the higher education context. We suggest that higher educationis no longer defined by tangible boundaries of a ‘physical campus’ but by the entire student experience,whether that involves negotiating the physical corridors of the campus, attending face-to-face classes,participating in fully online courses or a blend of both face-to-face and online courses. In addition thestudent experience may also involve connecting to virtual environments from home, a local cafe, on thetrain or participating in professional practice hundreds of kilometers from the physical campus. Thischapter attempts to account for the diverse range of spaces that are enriching the learning and teachingexperience for both academics and students and suggests the need to recognise the changing nature oflearning spaces in higher education.INTRODUCTION attending face-to-face classes, participating in fully online courses or a blend of both face-to-Higher education institutions are no longer defined face and online courses. In addition to the formalby the physical boundaries of their campus but by institutional physical and virtual spaces utilisedthe entire student experience, whether that involves by staff and students, the informal physical andnegotiating the physical corridors of the campus, virtual spaces may now encompass a wider range of distributed learning spaces. These distributedDOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-114-0.ch001 Copyright © 2012, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
  4. 4. Distributed Learning Spaceslearning spaces could involve a complex web of The growing acceptance of life-long andon-campus experiences, connecting to virtual life-wide learning also have a major influenceenvironments from a variety of locations such as on distributed learning spaces. Lifelong learninghome, a local cafe, on the train or participating in encompasses both formal and informal learning,professional practice hundreds of kilometers from self-motivated learning, self-funded learning andthe physical campus. Distributed learning spaces universal participation (Watson, 2003). There isrecognise that we are seeing a disintegration of growing acceptance and recognition of life-widethe distinction between face-to-face learning and learning in informal settings. “The idea of life-teaching and distance education. There is increased wide learning is proposed to highlight the fact thatrecognition that learning does not just occur in at any point in time, for example while a learnerthe formal university setting but increasingly at is engaged in Higher Education, an individual’swork, home and within the community and that life contains many parallel and interconnectedthe principles of lifelong learning are being em- journeys and experiences and that these individu-braced by society. There is also a proliferation of ally and collectively contribute to the ongoingapproaches emerging including ‘flexible’, ‘open’, personal and potentially professional develop-‘distance’ and ‘off-campus’ that assist the ubiquity ment of the person” (Jackson, 2010, p. 492). Weof learning in a wide range of contexts (Lea & can no longer assume that school leavers are theNicholl, 2002). major demographic group that universities need to The blurring of face-to-face learning and teach- cater for as mature age students are increasinglying and online learning is a significant shift for both represented in higher education settings. We canstudents and staff of universities. This disintegra- also not assume that all students will desire thetion of the distinction and the growing acceptance campus experience for their learning and thatthat learning occurs in different ‘places’ presents many students may choose flexible learning op-both exciting and challenging opportunities for portunities to suit their life circumstances whichhigher education. The recognition of blended and may mean that they do not physically visit theflexible learning is significant for traditional face- university campus.to-face institutions as well as distance education This chapter recognises the ubiquity of spacesuniversities. For the purposes of this chapter the that are enriching the learning and teaching experi-premise that flexible learning provides opportu- ence for both academics and students and suggestsnities to improve the student learning experience that we need to begin by exploring the pedagogicalthrough flexibility in time, pace, place (physical, interactions and considerations that are possible invirtual, on-campus, off-campus), mode of study distributed learning spaces. This chapter will begin(print-based, face-to-face, blended, online), with an examination of the role of the university,teaching approach (collaborative, independent), the utopian university in relation to learning andforms of assessment and staffing is accepted. It teaching, and the ecological university (Barnett,may utilise a wide range of media, environments, 2011). Secondly we will examine the assumptionslearning spaces and technologies for learning and and principles underlying higher education. Theseteaching. “Blended and flexible learning” is a assumptions and underlying principles form thedesign approach that examines the relationships default basis for making decisions about learningbetween flexible learning opportunities, in order and teaching in the higher education environ-to optimise student engagement and equivalence ment. Thirdly, pedagogy needs to be examinedin learning outcomes regardless of mode of study to understand the nature of distributed learning(Keppell, 2010). spaces. Fourthly, rather than lecture halls with rowed seats being the predominant physical space2
  5. 5. Distributed Learning Spacesfor learning and teaching in higher education, this other words universities seek to develop gradu-chapter explores a diverse range of alternate learn- ates who will continue to develop intellectually,ing spaces including: physical/virtual, formal/ professionally and socially beyond the bounds ofinformal, blended, mobile, outdoor, academic, formal education. To achieve this goal we need topersonal and practice-based spaces and considers explicitly teach university students skills in life-the importance of flexibility, adaptability and time long learning and life-wide learning in order forin these settings. The chapter traverses physical, them to continue to learn once outside the boundsblended and virtual spaces and examines the per- of the physical or virtual boundaries of the institu-ceived and actual affordances of these learning tion. In addition, university curriculum, learningspaces. Fifthly, a case study is presented outlining and teaching services need to be responsive toa range of spaces utilised by students. It examines the diverse cultural, social and academic needsthe use of spaces from the student experience as of students in order to enable them to adapt to theopposed to the technology or physical space per- demands of university education and to providespective. Gaining a clear understanding of where, them with cultural capital for life success. In es-how, and why students use these technologies is sence we seek sustainability or as Barnett (2011)more elusive and how students use space in their suggests, we seek the utopia of the ecologicaleveryday lives provides a fascinating insight into university.the use of space by students (Riddle & Howell, Barnett (2011) suggests that the ecological2008). Finally, the chapter will examine implica- university represents an orientation to sustain-tions for the use of distributed learning spaces in ability, interconnectedness, wellbeing and carehigher education. for the university environment that encompasses all aspects of its functioning including the envi- ronment, social relations and knowledge. It is aROLE OF UNIVERSITIES IN networked university that values and fosters itsRELATION TO DISTRIBUTED networks and their interconnectedness and feels aLEARNING SPACES responsibility to the wellbeing of these networks. “Through its interest in promoting understandingThe role of universities has been traditionally through learning and inquiry, it seeks to contributefocused on research, teaching and service to the what it can so as to advance the wellbeing of eachcommunity. At the core of their values is that the aspect of the world upon which it might have anneeds of society are central to their activities. effect” (Barnett, 2011, p. 142). Instead of ‘havingA core value of universities is that they focus an impact’ on the world, ecological universitieson enhancing society and influencing students seek sustainability and more importantly self-to become fully functioning members of their sustainability in multiple levels of interactions.professional community. There would be little It adopts a ‘care for the world’ as opposed to andisagreement with the notion that universities ‘impact on the world’ approach (Barnett, 2011).should contribute to the well-being of society and The underlying principles for achieving thestrive to develop students who are both confident goal of the ecological university include at leastand forward-looking in their aptitude to continue five aspects: access and equity; equivalence ofto learn once working in their chosen profession. learning outcomes; student learning experience;The major distinctive feature of a professional constructive alignment and discipline pedagogies.is their ability to reflect on a daily basis on their Universities have ethical obligations to cater forwork and then action forward-looking thinking for students of all ages, geographical location andthe benefit of their own professional practice. In technological access. Distance education univer- 3
  6. 6. Distributed Learning Spacessities usually cater for all students by providing face-to-face learning and teaching in physicaloptions for face-to-face students, students in buildings is superior to other forms of learningblended learning environments (combination and teaching.of face-to-face and online interactions), online The concept of ‘constructive alignment’ (Biggsenvironments and also students who require & Tang, 2007) is another principle that underpinsprint-based resources due to their lack of internet learning and teaching in the ecological university.access or technological proficiency. In other words It suggests that students construct meaning throughuniversities have an ethical obligation in relation their interactions in learning and teaching and thatto ‘access and equity’ in the provision of courses all aspects of the learning context should be aligned(degrees) and subjects for all students. to achieving the desired learning outcomes. For In addition to access and equity, university this reason the learning environment, curriculum,education has an ethical obligation to have ‘equiva- degree, learning and teaching activities, assess-lence of learning outcomes’ across the range of ment and learning outcomes should be designedoptions mentioned previously. Universities are in conjunction with each other to guarantee thenow seeing a higher percentage of part-time stu- richness of the student experience.dents juggling family, work and studies as well Another principle that will influence the usestudents who may study by distance education of spaces in higher education is the disciplineusing online technologies and who may seldom pedagogy unique to the specific profession. Shul-visit the physical campus. This means that no two man (2005) refers to these unique approaches asstudents may have exactly the same educational the ‘signature pedagogies’ of the professions. “Aexperience, yet it is expected that students will ‘signature pedagogy’ is a mode of teaching thatgraduate with comparable knowledge, skills, com- has become inextricably identified with prepar-petence and attitudes in their chosen area. Instead ing people for a particular profession” (Shulman,of examining sameness of the educational experi- 2005, p. 5). A ‘signature pedagogy’ has a numberence (whatever that means) we need to focus on of unique characteristics. Firstly, it is an approach‘equivalence of learning outcomes’. Learning and distinctive to the profession (e.g. clinical roundsteaching in all these spaces (face-to-face, blended, in medicine). Secondly, the approach is pervasiveonline, resource-based) needs to be underpinned in the curriculum and thirdly, the approach is per-by optimal design practices to ensure equivalent vasive across institutions and therefore essentiallearning outcomes for all students. in the education of the profession. Another key principle that naturally flows from In addition to the principles above, contempo-the previous principle is that the ‘contemporary rary learning and teaching needs to account for thestudent experience traverses physical, blended and type of interactions that are occurring or could oc-virtual learning spaces’. This includes students cur in subjects and degree programs. Informationstudying at traditional face-to-face universities access (course and subject expectations) conveys/as well as distance education universities that delivers information to the individual learnershould be naturally embracing distributed learning through the learning management system. Thisspaces. ‘Place’ is becoming less important in the may include course design information as wellstudent experience and it may be that academics as the subject related requirements in relation towill need to embrace this multiplicity of spaces subject information, learning outcomes, assess-for learning and teaching. The recognition of dis- ment and a rationale for the use of online tools.tributed learning spaces in higher education will Information access allows easy access by learn-have enormous implications for all universities ers to information or resources and the ability toand particularly those universities that believe review the content at anytime through the learning4
  7. 7. Distributed Learning Spacesmanagement system. Interactive learning (learner- DISTRIBUTED LEARNING SPACESto-content interactions) determines the blends thatare appropriate at subject level, taking into account Learning and teaching in higher education shouldfactors such as the learning space (on-campus, at occur in a range of learning spaces rather thana distance, workplace learning, the level of learner the predominant physical learning space beingengagement with the resources within the learn- the lecture halls with rowed seats. These learninging management system environment, and other spaces should include: physical/virtual, formal/connected environments such as eportfolio, Web informal, blended, mobile, outdoor, academic,2.0 tools, online meeting spaces and so on). It in- personal and practice-based spaces and shouldvolves an individual interaction with the resources. consider flexibility, adaptability and time. ThisThese resources would be embedded within the section traverses physical, blended and virtualonline environment or may involve standalone spaces and examines the perceived and actualCD-ROMs, DVDs which are delivered to distance affordances of these learning spaces.education learners or utilised by learners in face- Throughout this chapter four key aspects willto-face classes. Networked learning (learner-to- define our definition of learning spaces. Learninglearner, learner-to-teacher interactions) enhance spaces are:communication between learners; and betweenlearners and teachers within the learning manage- • physical, blended or virtual learning envi-ment system, and other connected environments ronments that enhance as opposed to con-such as eportfolio, Web 2.0 tools, online meeting strain learning;spaces and so on. Peer learning is central to this • physical, blended or virtual ‘areas’ thatapproach where it is expected that there would be motivate a user to participate for learningtwo-way dialogue/feedback between learners and/ benefits;or two-way dialogue/feedback between learners • spaces where both teachers and studentsand the teacher. Within the learning management optimize the perceived and actual affor-system this may include: forums, chat, group dances of the space; andtasks, reflective journals, blogs, online debates, • spaces that promote authentic learningonline presentations, virtual tutorials, wikis. interactions.Student-generated content (learners-as-designers,assessment-as-learning) emphasises the design, Physical Learning Spacesdevelopment and presentation of products andartefacts which may also be associated with the These spaces often have a preconceived functionformal assessment of the subject. These artefacts that is determined before they are designed formay include student-generated: reports, concept learning and teaching. They are often determinedmaps, reflective journals, digital stories, presen- by traditional conceptions of teaching and learningtations, e-portfolios, group projects as well as that place a premium on the teacher as authorityphotographs, video and audio artefacts and web and disseminator of knowledge and the student as2.0 technologies. Individual, partner and group passive recipient of knowledge. Typical of thesedevelopments may be utilised in this approach approaches are the use of lectures and tutorials(Keppell, 2010). where students listen and write notes. Although there is a place for lecturing in any learning and teaching strategy and within any institution, the focus tends to be on content as opposed to student engagement and learning. A high proportion of 5
  8. 8. Distributed Learning SpacesFigure 1. Distributed learning spaces that students and academics are increasingly traversing in highereducationlecture halls within universities reinforce this tra- which are directly relevant for the future careerditional approach to disseminating content which of the student. Informal physical learning spacesis in opposition to the interactive formal learning include libraries and learning commons (seespaces that encourage knowledge generation by Figure 2) that have been explicitly designed tostudents. Innovative formal learning spaces that encourage students to engage in both independentexplicitly encourage peer-learning may adopt and peer-learning. Ideal informal spaces provideproblem-based learning or project-based learning sufficient flexibility so that students can design theapproaches. informal space to suit their own learning needs. To enhance learning, universities have tradi- Chairs, tables, access to wi-fi and power pointstionally used physical learning spaces (lecture the- need to be considered to allow this adaptability.atres, labs, tutorial rooms) to prepare students for In addition, different weeks of the semester maytheir future careers and professions. To motivate require totally different spaces as students progresslearners and provide diverse teaching approaches, through stages of their learning. One learningformal physical learning spaces need to be adapt- space may need to promote quiet, independent,able and flexible for learning and teaching as self-reflective study for the individual studentopposed to being designed for one purpose. This while the same space on another day may needallows both learners and teachers to use the space to allow group-based and peer learning. This isto suit the learning activities as opposed to con- ideal when spaces enhance, motivate and promotestraining the learning and teaching opportunities authentic learning interactions. These aspects arein the subject or course. Ideally, learning activities important for existing spaces as well as spacesshould focus on authentic learning interactions that are being designed or repurposed.6
  9. 9. Distributed Learning Spaces Souter, Riddle, Keppell, Sellers (2010) suggest light, wifi, private spaces, writing surfaces,seven principles of learning space design which sofas, and so on.support a constructivist approach to learning: and • Repurposing: the potential for multiple us-support a learning environment that is student- age of a space.centred, collaborative, and experiential. Theseinclude: Virtual Learning Spaces• Comfort: a space which creates a physical Many higher education universities use institu- and mental sense of ease and well-being. tional virtual learning environments (e.g. Sakai,• Aesthetics: pleasure which includes the Blackboard, Moodle) to complement the face-to- recognition of symmetry, harmony, sim- face learning and teaching experience via blended plicity and fitness for purpose. learning or to provide distance education using• Flow: the state of mind felt by the learn- blended or totally online subjects and courses er when totally involved in the learning (degree programs). Coates, James and Baldwin experience. (2005) suggest a number of factors that have been• Equity: consideration of the needs of cul- drivers behind the adoption of learning manage- tural and physical differences. ment systems (LMS) within higher education• Blending: a mixture of technological and settings. These include: face-to-face pedagogical resources.• Affordances: the “action possibilities” the • LMS suggest a means of increasing the ef- learning environment provides the users, ficiency of teaching including such things as kitchens, naturalFigure 2. A learning commons at a distance education university which allows students 24 hour access 7
  10. 10. Distributed Learning Spaces• The attractiveness of LMS is associ- is often influenced by context, culture, instinct ated with the promise of enriched student and mental models. When designers make use learning of affordances the user knows what to do just• Universities are driven by new student by looking. The concept of affordance has been expectations widely discussed in relation to ICT (Boyle &• Competitive pressure between institutions Cook, 2004; Conole & Dyke, 2004a, 2004b; Hill, has been a driver behind the adoption of 2006; John & Sutherland, 2005; Oliver, 2005). LMS A crucial aspect of the concept is that both the• LMS are sometimes proposed as a key teacher and learner must understand how a space means of responding to massive and in- can be utilised which means that it is necessary creasing demands for greater access to to understand both the perceived and actual af- higher education fordance of a space. For example, a student needs• LMS are part of an important culture shift to recognise and understand the perceived affor- taking place in teaching and learning in dance of a wiki (i.e. collaboration) and be able higher education (p. 24-25). to use this affordance in the actual development of a project that involves three students dispersed Associated with this culture shift in teaching across different states and time zones of Australia.and learning has been the important decisions Informal virtual learning spaces are becomingthat need to be made by institutions in choosing increasingly utilised in higher education. Face-a LMS that best matches their ‘specific context’. book, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter allow users toThis is not a simple decision, as evidenced by the personalise and customize their own virtual spacescalibre of personnel who need to be involved in and network and socialise with others. Madge,the decision making process. “In incorporating Meek, Wellens and Hooley (2010) suggest thatonline learning systems into university teaching “Web 2.0 applications are increasingly embeddedprogrammes, it is important to consider whether in the daily routines of everyday life, particularlycommercially available systems are adaptable to for young people in many places and a varietythe needs of diverse academic cultures and com- of different social settings” (p. 142). Universi-munities” (Coates, James & Baldwin, 2005, p. ties are recognising the value of web 2.0 tools to31). Debate still occurs as to whether an institution enhance the formal virtual learning environmentshould adopt a proprietary LMS (with so-called and many are utlising both vendor supplied andconstraints) or an open source LMS (which may community-driven tools. Madge, Meek, Wellensprovide too much freedom). and Hooley (2010) research on the use of Facebook Virtual learning spaces provide unique oppor- for streamlining the transition of new studentstunities that are unavailable in physical learning into university also found that “online and offlinespaces and can enrich the student experience. worlds are clearly coexisting, but used in differ-These affordances or ‘action possibilities’ allow ent ways for developing and sustaining differenta richer range of learning interactions and may types of relationships. For example, face-to-faceinclude online discussion forums, blogs, wikis, friendships from home have been developed andpodcasts and diverse media-rich environments. sustained through continued online interactions,The notion of space in this context is not bounded whilst newer online relationships have flourishedby physical walls but by virtual spaces that have at university and developed into face-to-face in-different affordances. An affordance is a design depth relationships” (p. 145).aspect of an object which suggests how an objectshould be used (Norman, 1988). An affordance8
  11. 11. Distributed Learning SpacesBlended Learning Spaces In addition it offers an “integration of spaces” (p. 2) and allows flexibility in the time when learnersBlended learning involves the integration of both are involved in subjects or courses.on-campus face-to-face learning and teaching andon or off-campus virtual learning environments Mobile Learning Spacesutilising the affordances of each environment toenhance the student experience. A combination The use of mobile technology such as Smart-of physical/virtual, formal/informal would be phones and iPods represents a promising area inconsidered in these spaces to optimise the student which to explore the concept of space. Mobileexperience. “Blended and flexible learning” is a technologies will provide further flexibility to thedesign approach that examines the relationships student experience in higher education and theybetween flexible learning opportunities, in order will become increasingly important as studentsto optimise student engagement and equivalence and academics traverse physical, blended andin learning outcomes regardless of mode of study virtual learning environments. “With its strong(Keppell, 2010). Gerbic and Stacey (2009) suggest emphasis on learning rather than teaching, mobilethat the introduction of blended learning is chal- learning challenges educators to try to understandlenging as “the face-to-face setting is foundational learners’ needs, circumstances and abilities evenin all contexts, and has a historical and experiential better than before. This extends to understandinglegitimacy” (p. 302). They also suggest that “it is how learning takes place beyond the classroom,far more difficult to create or develop the same in the course of daily routines, commuting andkind of fidelity, comfort or social presence in travel, and in the intersection of education, life,online spaces” (p. 302). work and leisure” (Kukulska-Hulme, 2010, p.181). Other perspectives suggest that blended learn- The Horizon Report (2011) suggests that thereing is “a design approach whereby both face-to- is a shift in the means that users are connectingface and online learning are made better by the to the internet due to: “the growing number ofpresence of each other” (Garrison & Vaughan, internet-capable mobile devices, increasingly flex-2008, p. 52). Blended learning and teaching can ible web content, and continued development ofoccur at four levels of granularity. These include: the networks that support connectivity.” It is alsoactivity-level blending, subject-level blending, suggested that 100% of university students utilisecourse-level blending and institutional-level mobile phones and their portability and ubiquityblending (Graham, 2006). A blended learning are powerful tools for learning and teaching.design may also be enabling, enhancing or Their ability to be used as electronic book read-transformative. Enabling blends would address ers, annotation tools, creation, composition, socialissues of access and equity to provide equitable networking, image, video and audio capture toolsopportunities in face-to-face, print-based, blended is becoming increasingly sophisticated (Horizonand fully online learning environments. Enhanc- Report, 2011). In addition “learning when mobileing blends focus on incremental changes to the means that context becomes all-important, sinceexisting teaching and learning environment. even a simple change of location is an invitationTransformative blends focus on a major redesign to revisit learning, in both a literal sense (to applyof the teaching and learning environment (e.g. it, reflect on it, reinforce it, share it) and meta-online, problem based learning). Littlejohn and phorical, to reconsider what constitutes learningPegler (2007) suggest that “blended e-learning or what makes it effective in a given situation”offers the possibility of changing our attitudes … (Kukulska-Hulme, 2009, p. 159). Conversely,as to where and when learning takes place” (p. 2). it is possible to argue that the context becomes 9
  12. 12. Distributed Learning Spacesimmaterial when mobile technologies make any management and are more often than not devel-place a learning space. oped as an after thought in campus design. As such the thoroughfares and rest areas are underOutdoor Learning Spaces valued (or not recognised) as important spaces for learning and teaching.” Importantly, with theThe need to think ‘outside the box’ as to what pervasiveness of wifi and mobile devices, outdoorconstitutes a learning and teaching space will learning spaces can create a blended learningbecome increasingly important particularly as experience that models distributed learning andmobile learning will continue to grow in usage. provides learning opportunities which may notOutdoor spaces represent one of the unexpected be possible within the boundaries of physical‘places’ where rich learning may occur. Most classrooms.university campuses focus time and energy onthe formal learning spaces of the buildings for Academic Spaceslearning and teaching with both students and staffoften gazing across manicured gardens and fields Barnett (2011) suggests that “today’s universitysurrounding the buildings. It is somewhat ironic lives amid multiple time-spans, and time-speeds”that few academics and students may consider (p. 74). He suggests that the arrival of constantand utilise these open spaces as formal/informal email would be considered one of these multiplelearning spaces that provide unique opportunities time-spans, and other time spans might includefor learning in all disciplines. historians who focus on the past and researchers Rafferty (2011) eloquently suggests that “these who may focus on the future of their research.pathways, thoroughfares and occasional rest areas Academic developers may focus on 12 months ofare generally given a functional value in traffic workshops and seminars and distance educationFigure 3. A formal outdoor learning space at a distance education university10
  13. 13. Distributed Learning Spacesuniversities may need to be conscious of the 24/7 • Practical time/practical space is the workexistence of their students across the globe, each in diary time that is scheduled for individualtheir own unique time-span. In other words there academics and the university calendar. It isare a ‘plurality of durations’ and ‘time-spans’ for the predominant “visible felt time and vis-individual academics who often work evenings ible space” (p. 78) in universities.and weekends. Increasingly, academics need to • Virtual time/virtual space is the ‘hiddenfocus on activities that do ‘double-time’, in order time’ and space that includes the papersto manage multiple time-spans. These activities and books written at home, reading under-fulfill more than one function, such as researching taken on the train to work or plane com-one’s own teaching. Academics may also use their muting to other campuses, communication‘multiple time-spans’ to ‘open spaces’ through via Skype and other such activities that gocollaborations across the country and globe with unseen. This ‘hidden time’ may impinge onacademics within other universities. the life/work balance of the academic if it Barnett (2011) suggests that academics may is not managed by the individual academic.be active in university spaces that may include: • Imagined time/imagined space is the time spent thinking of possibilities which are• Intellectual and discursive space which fo- ‘new spaces and timeframes’ (Barnett, cus on the contribution to the wider public 2011). sphere.• Epistemological space which focuses on The academic who imagines possibilities, lives the “space available for academics to pur- with uncertainty when they travel (physically or sue their own research interests” (p. 76). virtually) as they are putting themselves forward• Pedagogical and curricular space focuses into new spaces. International conference presen- on the spaces available to trial new peda- tations, working in different cultural contexts all gogical approaches and new curricular represent new spaces and a stretching of thoughts initiatives. and perspectives. Universities need to encourage• Ontological space which focuses on ‘aca- this entry into new spaces, new thoughts and new demic being’ which is becoming increas- possibilities in order to continue thinking about ingly multi-faceted beyond the research, what will work toward the goal of the ecological teaching and community commitments. university. Terms such as manager, mentor, facilitator and curriculum designer suggest boundar- Personal Learning Spaces ies which are changing. In fact “the widen- ing of universities’ ontological spaces may Personal learning environments (PLE) integrate bring both peril and liberation” (p. 77). formal and informal learning spaces but more importantly they are customised by the individual Increasingly due to the dispersed student popu- to suit their needs and allow them to create theirlation spread across the globe, timezones, physical own identities. They comprise all the tools we useand virtual learning spaces, universities may be in our daily lives. Figure 4 is an attempt to mapseen as “intersecting time zones and space zones” the tools that are used for learning in the role of a(Barnett, 2011, p. 78). Barnett (2011) combines university academic. A PLE recognises ongoingtime and space to create three formations. These learning and the need for tools to support life-longinclude: and life-wide learning. “PLE are based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts 11
  14. 14. Distributed Learning Spacesand situations and will not be provided by a single knowledge to trusted members of a personallearning provider” (Attwell, 2007, p. 1). PLE are network. Some of the principles of connectivismindividually-constructed and customised and they include:stand in stark contrast to learning managementsystems which both enhance and constrain learn- • Learning requires a diversity of opinions;ing due to their inherent structure, configuration • Learning is a network formation;and imposed organisation. PLE may also foster • Knowledge rests in networks;self-regulated learning “which refers to the ability • The capacity to know more is essential;of the learner to prepare for his/her own learning, andtake the necessary steps to learn, manage/evaluate • The capacity to remain current is valued.his/her learning and provide self-feedback andjudgement, all while maintaining a high level of Practice-Based Spacesmotivation (McLoughlin & Lee, 2009, p. 639). PLE may also require new ways of learning Universities are increasingly educating learnersas knowledge has changed to networks and to participate in professional practice before en-ecologies (Siemens, 2006). The implications of tering the workforce. Learners are immersed inthis change is that improved lines of communica- practicums or work-integrated learning activitiestion need to occur. “Connectivism is the assertion in schools, hospitals, practice environments etc.that learning is primarily a network-forming These work-integrated activities are undertakenprocess” (p. 15). It is a theory of learning in the in spaces often at a distance from the universitydigital age that attempts to filter and offload campus, sometimes without direct supervision.Figure 4. Personal learning spaces that may regularly be traversed12
  15. 15. Distributed Learning SpacesThe student within the practicum learns the culture excluding the hours between 10pm and 8am,of the profession through this immersion and often prompting them with the following questions.interacts at a distance from university academics.The use of mobile devices and personal learning 1. What time is it?environments has enormous potential for connect- 2. Where are you?ing the student during their practicum. The use 3. Who are you with? (friends, colleagues,of eportfolios also provides a mechanism for the family etc.)student to provide reflections, complete formal 4. What are you doing?assessments and use multiple forms of media to 5. What technologies or techniques are you us-document, reflect and share their ongoing learn- ing? (including pen & paper or face-to-faceing within the practice-based space with other communication)students and academic staff. 6. How do you feel about it? ◦ Use the camera! ◦ Use the voice recorder if you like!CASE STUDY: STUDENT ◦ Use the diary!EXPERIENCE These instructions encouraged the partici-A Day In the Life of a Student pants to provide as rich and detailed an account as possible of their experience. At the end of theIn September and October 2008, 19 students twenty-four hour period, the students were invitedfrom La Trobe University in Melbourne became to present their photos and discuss their ‘day’co-researchers in an experiment about the use with each of the other students in the cohort. Inof technologies in their daily lives. After a short groups of five or six, they sat around a table andbriefing, they carried a kit designed to assist them a facilitator invited them to show the group theirto record one twenty-four hour period of their photographs using a computer and projector. Asstudent experience. The kit included, a short list each slide appeared, the student who had takenof instructions, a paper diary, and a digital camera the photograph talked about where they were atwith voice recording capability. Each student also the time and what they were doing, as well ascarried a mobile phone. any technologies they happened to be using at This project used the ‘day experience method’ the time. The slides showed lecture halls, tuto-(Riddle & Arnold, 2007) and is based on a com- rial rooms, and library carrels, but most of thembination of the ‘experience sampling method’ showed informal ‘places’ off campus including(Hektner, Schmidt & Csikszentmihalyi, 2006), pizza shops, trams, swimming pools and cars, with‘cultural probes’ (Gaver, Dunne, & Pacenti, 1999) many photos taken indoors at home.and the ‘day reconstruction method’ (Kahneman,Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004). Fitting Everything Into the DayThe method was developed to examine studentperspectives of technologies in their daily lives, Freda is a 20-year old full time student who isas part of the Learning Landscape Project (2008) studying tourism management. During the focusat the University of Cambridge. group, Freda presented her photos which included Four different groups of students participated a photo featuring her iPod while she was at theover the university week. Each student was sent gym. The conversation turned to the topic of usinga text message between eight and ten times at ir- music players while doing other things, and to theregular intervals over a twenty-four hour period, general topic of doing many things concurrently, 13
  16. 16. Distributed Learning Spacesoften involving technologies. When asked, Freda Harvey: …probably 80% of the time.explained that it was quite normal for her to havean iPod, an iPhone, a met ticket, and shoppingbags under her arms while she was trying to Harvey: It’s just, I’m on call literally, I’ll havecatch a bus, and even when using her computer orders that I have to fill and be all over Melbourneshe often used an iPod while chatting to friends doing deliveries… It’s pretty full on.on Facebook. The other students agreed that thiswas normal practice. Eddie suggested that listen-ing to music on his laptop headphones assisted Facilitator: Are you studying full time?him to concentrate, but Chanelle complained thatlistening to music while doing other things couldalso be a distraction. Harvey: Yes. From Monday to Wednesday I’m Freda showed another slide with some books, here, and Thursday to Sunday I work … a 60 hourand explained that she was studying at work while week, so it’s pretty full on!“it’s pretty quiet and the bosses aren’t around”.A discussion with the group about time manage-ment followed and Freda pointed to a small red Laptops and Wifileather bound book on top of the pile. “That’s myorganiser, the red thing’s my organiser which I Eddie is 27, and is a full time business informationwrite in all the time to juggle commitments…”. management systems student at La Trobe in hisNone of the other students had an organiser to second year of a masters degree. He lives nearbymanage hourly appointments, but some of the other the university, only four stops away on the tram.students commented that they write down tasks Like all his friends, Eddie carries a mobile phoneor add reminders to their phones for important with him at all times. Eddie’s diary shows thatappointments. in the early afternoon he walked to the library to Bernice, a 21-year old law and management do research for his assignments. At the time ofgraduate diploma student, described being alone the first text prompt, Eddie was waiting outsideat home on her computer writing an essay while at the library and regretted his decision to leave histhe same time messaging a friend and organising laptop at home because the queues were so longa limousine for her sister’s wedding. to get onto a library workstation. He sat outside During the focus group discussion almost all of the library and was embarrassed to ask a friendthe group identified themselves as multi-taskers, to borrow his laptop to check his email.with only one student, Harvey, seeing himself as During the focus group discussion, Eddiemore focused. A little later in the discussion, he explained that he had trouble accessing wifi onexplained why. campus during the semester. Alexandra, a 22-year old international student suggested that the staffHarvey: I run a pet wholesaling business, so I’m have told her that undergraduates cannot access… on-call for 60 hours from Thursday morning the internet from outside the library, whilst post-to Sunday night, so it’s just go, go, go! graduates could do so. Eddie confirmed that he could use the internet sitting outside the library, but Alexandra complained that she could not ac-Facilitator: How much of that [time] will you be cess wifi even from inside the classrooms.… unable to study?14
  17. 17. Distributed Learning SpacesStudying in Comfort such as the car, on the tram, at a friend’s place, or pursuing a hobby.Chanelle complained that when students do takelaptops outside, they can’t use them for very long Adapting Learning Space Designsbecause the battery dies. She also mentioned thatthere are no power points available on the campus A number of challenges arise from the data col-to accommodate students outside of the library. lected in this study. In particular, student expecta-While examining a photo of a study area outside tions of their study environment may be ‘out ofthe library, Eddie suggested that ‘when the library step’ with university provision, and students arecloses, many students move outside to finish off dissatisfied with some particular aspects of privatetheir work, but because of the lack of power they study spaces. They often lack suitable places tocan only study for a short while’. The students work on their assignments, which demand inde-also discussed how well the university meets pendent, focused research as well as collaborativetheir needs in terms of private study. The students study. Because students are dividing their timeexpressed frustration about finding a comfortable between work, study, home and social commit-place to study on the campus. ments, they often find it difficult to juggle these commitments.Chanelle: There’s just no … place for large A subsequent project has now been initiated atnumbers [of students] to sit. The university is not La Trobe University under the banner of Facultyproviding for the number of people that actually Based Learning Commons, which is addressingattend [the campus]. Because it is so far ‘out’ I some of these student concerns. The project in-guess it benefits people who live … locally … volves the development of several ‘eddie spaces’but people that have … to travel … far … they’regoing to spend the whole day here. If they leave Table 1. Frequencies of the responses to the ques-the library they lose their spot in the library and tion “Where are you?”there’s nowhere else to go. Location Responses Bank 1Where are You? Cafe 6 Car 13The ‘day experience method’ is useful for a con- Car park 1sideration of the theme of space, as it provides Computer lab 2a snapshot of where students are spending their Friend’s residence 8time during a typical day (Howell, 2008; Riddle Home 66& Howell, 2008). Table 1 illustrates the number of Lecture 11times students mentioned their location in diaries Library 25or voice recordings. The most prominent location Public transport 6for studying was home (66). The second most Recreation venue 8prominent location was the library (25), followed Shopping 4by the car (13) tutorial (12) and lecture (11). One Tutorial 12other notable aspect of this data is that the students University 5in this study spent a significant amount of time Walking 2in places outside home, work or their university, Workplace 10 15
  18. 18. Distributed Learning Spacesaround the Melbourne campus, and includes IMPLICATIONSprovision of group and individual study spaces incorridors and building overpasses. A centerpiece There are a number of implications that shouldof this development is the design of a new student be considered in relation to distributed learninghub (Figure 5). This hub includes an indoor space spaces.with a combination of fixed banquette seating toform café style booths with power hubs, alongside Adaptability of Learning Spacesflip top tables and lightweight durable seating thatcan be easily reconfigured for group or private Flexible learning and teaching spaces shouldstudy. The space will include a kitchen area for allow adaptability over time for different uses.tea and coffee, powered lockers, and card entry for For example distance education universities mayextended hours thereby enabling students to use require spaces to be used for students who are boththe space in comfort over the course of an entire physically present and students who never visit theday. The design calls for wifi zones to extend to campus but participate via videoconferencing inan outdoor seating area which will also include group learning activities. Balancing the experiencecomfortable powered work areas. In this way the of students who traverse face-to-face, blended‘day in the life of a student study’ has influenced and virtual learning spaces will be increasinglythe design of distributed spaces across the campus. important in the future.Figure 5. Concept drawing for a faculty based learning commons including indoor and outdoor spaceswith wifi zones, powered booths, and flexible furniture. Image authored by Baldasso Cortese Architects.16
  19. 19. Distributed Learning SpacesUbiquity of Spaces of week and week of semester. Students may utilise space dependent on their other constraintsIt is essential that we recognise the diversified of work and family and timing of classes andnature of learning and teaching spaces. Homes, travel. Distance education students may budgetcars, buses, hotels, cafes become mobile spaces only certain days to study on-campus or virtually.where the student may undertake learning. Study- For example, the early stages of a subject maying while travelling to work via train or bus may encourage students to discuss content with otherrepresent the learning space for some students. peers, while group assessment tasks will alsoThe need for careful thought about how students require students to work in teams and use spacewill interact with universities will need to be for discussion and negotiation. When exams areconsidered in the future. nearing, students may revert to quiet individual spaces for self-study as opposed to peer learning.Study Time and Space Decision-MakingIn addition to the notion of physical/virtual andformal/informal, the concept of time also needs Decision makers who determine physical and vir-to be considered. Students’ use of space during a tual infrastructure for higher education institutionssemester will be influenced by time of day, day need to be cognizant of the emergence of distrib-Figure 6. Multi-dimensional and integrated nature of distributed learning spaces 17
  20. 20. Distributed Learning Spacesuted learning spaces in order to plan and cater for interrelationship of course/degree strategy andfuture students. Adaptability of spaces will be the planning. It also includes the interrelationship ofkey aspect required of both physical and virtual subject interactions with learning spaces, peda-spaces. The acceptance of blending face-to-face gogy, digital proficiency and the affordances ofand virtual learning environments across degree the learning management system. Academicsprograms will also be an essential component of need to consider the interrelationship of all thesethe learning landscape. In addition, the need to dimensions when conceptualising their teaching asprovide students with a wider range of options to all of these factors will influence the learning andsuit their idiosyncratic circumstances will also be teaching nexus. Learning spaces are an essentiala necessity. Senior managers in higher education aspect of the learning and teaching landscape andwill need to recognise space from the student and their design will become increasingly importantacademic perspectives when decisions are made as learners choose to learn in ‘places’ that bestabout space in higher education institutions. These suit their needs and lifestyle.decisions will require careful evaluation of majortrends occurring in the learning and teaching envi-ronment in order to design spaces that are useful, REFERENCESbeneficial and sustainable. To assist this processthe underlying principles of higher education need Attwell, G. (2007). The personal learning en-to always underpin decision-making in relation vironment: The future of elearning? Elearningto choosing, designing and constructing the types papers, 2(1), 1-7.of spaces that universities utilise for educational Barnett, R. (2011). Being a university. New York,interactions in order to evolve into an ecological NY: Routledge.university. Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for qual- ity learning at University (3rd ed.). Maidenhead,CONCLUSION UK: Open University Press/McGraw Hill. Boyle, T., & Cook, J. (2004). Understanding andThis chapter has discussed the importance of space using technological affordances: A commentaryin higher education as a lens to examine learning on Conole and Dyke. ALT-J, 12(3), 295–299.and teaching, and to add to the conversation that doi:10.1080/0968776042000259591we need to rethink the campus as the ‘workplaceof learning’. The personal learning spaces that Coates, H., James, R., & Baldwin, G. (2005). Alearners occupy are diverse and unprecedented critical examination of the effects of Learningin higher education and it is time that we begin Management Systems on university teaching andchanging our thinking about the ‘place’ of learning. learning. Tertiary Education and Management,We need to let go of the tradition of universities 11, 19–36. doi:10.1080/13583883.2005.9967137as being a ‘singular place’ where learning and Conole, G., & Dyke, M. (2004). Understandingteaching occur. It is also time for us to embrace and using technological affordances: A responsedistributed learning spaces. to Boyle and Cook. ALT-J, 12(3), 301–308. In order to embrace distributed learning spaces doi:10.1080/0968776042000259609more fully we also need to recognise the complex-ity and multi-dimensional nature of learning andteaching (see Figure 6). The multi-dimensionalnature of learning and teaching is a complex18
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