Sunday, 3 April 2011

Interesting article on EDUCAUSE

Earlier today I came across an article on the EDUCAUSE web site written by Joan K.Lippincott which agrees with much of what I believe and have been writing about.

Joan K.Lippincott  is refering mainly to technology but does mention the physical space. However much of what she writes is applicable to the physical space as well as technology which is why I promote an holistic approach to the design of learning spaces. It is no longer acceptable to seperate out the pedagogy, physical space (layout and furniture type) and technology during the design of learning spaces. I hear this as a kind of mantra in the HE sector but still find that it  is not taken much notice of . There are some exceptions and they are growing in number, some of my collegues in SCHOMS are leading the way, but there are still many more institutions treading the traditional path.
I have copied the conclusion below and recommend reading the full version. As many of you will know there are other articles worth reading at the EDUCAUSE site.

There are several themes in the conclusion that I have written about on my blog, mainly:
1) Get a clear brief
2) Include the various stakeholders early on and in a central role
3) Evaluate (was it worth it, is it working)
4) If necesary change

Conclusion by Joan K.Lippincott

If an institution desires more than a facelift or an iconic new building, it should clearly articulate its learning objectives and then place a high priority on including curriculum redesign in the planning process for new learning spaces. Faculty who are genuinely engaged in pedagogy, along with others who are concerned with the teaching and learning aspects of the space, should play a central, not peripheral, role in planning groups. An institution that is serious about making changes in pedagogy, whether or not those changes include technology, should consider the kinds of motivation that faculty might respond to–from an internal grant program for curriculum redesign, to an increase in instructional technologists or other staff, to more frequent or timely workshops, to more reliable day-to-day support for classroom technologies. In addition, a unit or group should be tasked with assessing what is or is not working in the new learning spaces after they are occupied–and with making recommendations for changes.
All of this necessitates a serious investment of resources. In these difficult economic times, administrators at many institutions will likely want to see demonstrable returns on these investments. They may want some evidence that the investments, particularly in classroom technology, are being employed in the ways the planners anticipated and that the investments are creating some improvements in teaching and learning. Faculty may welcome opportunities to rethink their teaching style and the way in which they achieve their learning objectives if the proper supports are put in place. Ideally, with new or renovated learning spaces, formal and informal, all stakeholders can win: faculty can enhance their teaching, students can improve their learning, and administrators can proudly point to the positive results of their investments in physical facilities, new technologies, and support services


  1. Intersting question that should be answered before any space leaves the drawing board and someone starts to pur cement is:
    How will you measure sucess? ie What will indicate that the objectives have been attained in the design of this space?

    Once this has been answered then the design to deliver it [be this a change in pedagogy / course design or bricks and mortar] is much simpler and should lead to a holistic approach with no gottcha's on the way.


  2. Tessa
    I agree that this is an important element of space design. See post entitled 'Re-visiting Evaluation of Learning Spaces' and 'Evaluating New Learning Spaces'.
    However the design brief should be informed by what is expected to be deliverable in the space which should in turn inform the evaluation. As I have written earlier the development of the brief should involve a wide group of stakeholders.
    If you are unsure of what it is you are trying to achieve how can it be evaluated?
    So in answer to your question 'What will indicate that the objectives have been attained in the design of this space?' I suppose the answer is the brief.


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