One of the key problems - of course - about making better learning spaces, is how to evaluate 'success'. As someone said at our first CETLD Learning Spaces seminar at the University of Brighton last week (Does Space Matter?) a lot of developments seem to be about making spaces 'nicer'; brighter colours, better lighting, more informality, better integrated technologies. But students liking a space is not the same as it enhancing their learning (although it might overlap).
The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), who are reponsible for developing UK unniversity and college technology services, have recently funded a study by LSRI at the University of Nottingham to build a compendium of evaluation techniques for learning spaces. This follows on from the JISC Learner Experiences research which is currently offering workshops across the country about evaluation methods (see sidebar). Called JELS, the new work aims to bring together and review the range of methods currently used to investigate the effectiveness of learning spaces: visit their website to find out more and to participate.
Note: The Does Space Matter seminar was the first of 3: for details of the others (and to register) go to the CETLD website.