Learning Spaces – built on shifting ground

Having a focus on campus Learning Spaces throughout 2021 came with a touch of irony. Nonetheless, the intense focus on distant and remote learning locations was more than enough to give the topic a poignant touch of reality. Feedback from off-campus teachers and students highlighted the diverse range of makeshift learning spaces – the home-office was truly an accommodation of sorts.

The COVID pandemic created a convergent necessity that brought with it the need to innovate. Consequently, the pre-pandemic notion of a learning space was tested under new conditions – the learning and teaching success criteria has changed significantly. More than ever our learning spaces, virtual or otherwise, will need to be flexible, dynamic and connected. In that respect:

  • the contemporary campus is a dynamic eco-system where ‘flexible’ Learning Spaces are valued according to their interactive capability – measured in terms of accessibility and availability.
  • the ‘dynamic’ Learning Space, whether formal or informal, is now perceived as a partner in the learning and teaching experience. With such expectation that ‘partner’ needs to be robust and reliable.
  • The creation, and then maintenance of ‘connected’ Learning Spaces has become a complex design problem best approached using cross-team collaborations. When we work together Learning Spaces can and should embody the principles of universal design.

On this broad topic, ANU hosted a November workshop for the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE). The day-long event brought ACODE affiliates to a virtual gathering where those attending could share and showcase their local developments with an interested and informed audience.

For our part, the ANU reinvigorated this ACODE conversation and looks forward to leading the way as post-COVID opportunities stimulate new Learning Space interpretations. Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education + Digital) Professor Maryanne Dever presented some opening remarks at the start of the event, which you can see below:

December 2021

Tim Grace is the Manager of the Education Communities and Environments team at the Centre for Learning and Teaching.