Learning spaces

Students are drawn to spaces that are open, inviting, and stimulating spaces where they become fully engaged in the conversation and in the excitement of sharing new ideas

Carole C Wedge and Thomas D Kearns

You may have been given a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to plan and design a technology rich learning space.

It may be a refurbishment of an existing space or a new build. You want a space that will be inspirational for learners and others, yet practical in that it must meet the multifarious needs of a variety of users. And is it possible to future-proof for tomorrow’s technology? So where to start? That is where our learning spaces infoKit can help you.

We take you on the journey from developing your vision and communicating it to others, through to evaluation of your new space. Our case studies have a wealth of practical hints and tips and these are supported by our Flickr image library which in itself is inspirational showing what is possible and so giving you suggestions as what you may implement in your space.

A rich collection of illustrated case studies from across the sector and a catalogue of annotated photographs housed in the Flickr photo-sharing application can also be viewed.

Learning spaces case studies

Case studies

Our collection of illustrated case studies from across the sector can be viewed by institution or by theme, looking across institutions at various aspects such as technology.

Awards Wall, Matthew Boulton Campus, Birmingham Metropolitan College – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

flickr collection

flickr collection

This resource is underpinned by a catalogue of annotated photographs housed in the Flickr photo-sharing web service application.

Beanbags, InQbate, CETL in Creativity, University of Sussex – © InQbate

… space is something to think of as an instrument for innovation and collaboration.
David Kelley, Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration (2012)

All the feedback we’ve had from new build projects suggests that one of the elements people find most difficult is imagining a very different type of learning space. It’s easy to imagine doing what you do now in a nicer environment but how do you imagine the unimaginable?

The ‘Design’ section of the infoKit looks at a range of techniques for stimulating imagination and creativity alongside examples of what others have done. It will come as no surprise that this is the most image-rich section of the resource. Most importantly at this stage of your design we also help you do a reality check on your ‘blue-sky’ thinking before you commit to a build.

‘Implementation’ – this is the section of the infoKit where we get our virtual hands dirty. We look at the practicalities of a learning space project from the governance issues and decisions about finances, sustainability and procurement right through to actually managing the project and in particular handling the risks and the change involved. We also look at the range of people involved in such a project, what roles they play and how you might go about working with them.

How do you know you have designed and built is working and is still what is required? Evaluation needs to be considered at the start of your project and is ongoing and never ending. In this section, we examine different tools and techniques that are in use.

Many universities and colleges provide facilities for business start-up and spin-out companies. These young businesses offer a bridge between the academic and business worlds; they work in, and are supported by, both sectors and frequently offer employment and placement to students.

They view being a part of the university or college as very important to the success and growth of their businesses. This working space needs to be functional, stimulate innovation and creativity and still project a professional image to the business world; this they seem to manage as the case studies and images for the Business and Community Engagement (BCE) spaces demonstrate.

We hope that this infoKit will inspire you to think about what is possible and yet give you some practical advice on how to put your vision into practice.

Published: 5 February 2007 | Last updated: 10 April 2014