Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why Spaces for Learning in Art and Design?

Learning Spaces is a bit of a buzz topic right now. In the physical world the UK has the Building Schools for the Future programme re-designing secondary schools and a considerable amount of new and refurbished building is also going on in further and higher education. At the same time, the increasing ubiquity of new kinds of non-physical spaces - such as social networking and virtual worlds like Second Life - is leading people (including educationalists) to ask whether people are, could be, or should be learning differently these days.

For me, coming from an architectural background but with a lot of experience in both e-learning and art/design education, it feels like this subject is developing fast. But it remains limited because we are not thinking through the difficulties in connecting across the different perspectives of architects, academics and pedagogic theorists (let alone estates managers or students). So whilst some very interesting buildings and spaces for learning in art and design now exist, we have to ask whether - and how - these really enhance students' creativity, engagement and performance. We have to ask what are the actual relationships between social networking online, virtual environments and improving learning. And we have to ask hard questions about why pedagogic theories and new e-learning approaches continue to fail to appeal to the great majority of art and design tutors.

Image: from 'Own Room' project, exploring the minimum conditions for creativity - Access and Foundation into Architecture and Interiors, London Metropolitan University, 2001.

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