So what do learning technologists have to do with learning spaces?
One obvious answer would be that learning technologists can advise on and support the use of technology in these spaces; working very closely with audio-visual and other IT support teams. However, learning technologists can have a more fundamental role to play – the learning technologist’s role is to “provide expertise on pedagogical implications of a project’s design and objectives” (Learning Spaces Toolkit); thereby enabling and potentially shaping alternative technology enhanced approaches to teaching and learning in an institution.
In this session we will talk about how a university learning technology team took on these two responsibilities to help transform a former parish hall building into three large active learning spaces; creating an “atmosphere conducive to engaging students actively in their own learning” (Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs), 2016). The team then carried out an evaluation of the space focusing on the potential impact it had on teaching and learning. The findings of this study support the idea that space can influence pedagogy (Jessop, Guby and Smith, 2009). The new rooms were found to have the potential to prompt teachers to rethink their teaching by facilitating specific pedagogical approaches such as active learning.
Our experience on this project raises a number of other questions regarding the role of learning technologists in the design and development of learning spaces in higher education.
As expressed in UCISA’s toolkit (2016), “the current abundance of information sources means that access to information is no longer a primary reason for bringing people together, and we need to rethink the types of learning students undertake in these collective situations”.
So what learning technologies and related pedagogical approaches facilitate these “types of learning”? Do we need suitable learning spaces for approaches such as flipping the classroom and active learning to be successful? Are learning technologists therefore fundamental to a student centred approach to learning space design? What are the implications of the convergence of virtual and physical learning spaces? Finally, how do we start to approach all of these questions and challenges as an institution?
UCISA. (2016). The Higher Education Learning Spaces Toolkit: a SCHOMS, AUDE and UCISA Collaboration. 1st ed. [pdf] Oxford: UCISA. Available at: http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/learningspace [Accessed 24 March 2016].
Learningspacestoolkit.org. Stakeholder Roles. [online] Available at: http://learningspacetoolkit.org/roadmap/stakeholders-roles/ [Accessed 24 March 2016]
Mcgill.ca, (2016). Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). [online] Available at: https://www.mcgill.ca/tls/spaces/alc [Accessed 24 March 2016)
Jessop, S, Gubby, L and Smith, A. (2012). Space frontiers for new pedagogies: a tale of constraints and possibilities. Studies in Higher Education, Vol.37, Iss.2