..... EXPLORING CONCEPTUAL, PERSONAL, SOCIAL, PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL SPACES FOR LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The qualities of good learning spaces
At the UAL Making Spaces event, I ran a workshop asking the question I have been asking a lot of people: what makes a good learning space? Groups were asked first to discuss their own experiences of 'good' and 'bad' learning spaces and then to come up with a short list of key 'good' characteristics. Again, there was a lot of emphasis on the whole experience of learning, not just its physical spaces. For example - well-orchestrated/good choreography/managing expectations/explicit rules of the game. Or safe enough to take risks/confidence giving/non-precious/belonging. Or spirit of discovery/dynamic/valued. Others focused on basics - fit for purpose/environmental comfort/functional/inviting/organised (not left with previous activities 'mess'). And colour/variety (avoid ubiquity)/daylight/good acoustics/airflow/proper equipment/good catering.
Interestingly, a lot of the follow-up discussion was less about 'high-quality' designed facilites and more about how to improve the feel of existing spaces - about 'ownership' (who, how) and the power of students being able to appropriate space; about the importance of space feeling valued rather than neglected; about what types of spaces might sit between open access/flexible and dedicated/single use; and about how spaces might be 'refreshed' so they do not become too familiar, but retain the potential of engagement/unexpected outcomes.