6 strategies Australian Universities are using to design and develop collaborative and flexible learning spaces

Over the last decade learning spaces have evolved from traditional lecture style classrooms to technology-enabled environments that promote collaborative learning.

But no matter what stage you are at, designing and developing learning spaces is an ever evolving journey – and one that never stops.

As new technologies continue to emerge (think Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in more recent times), the way that students learn and engage is going to continue to change.

In order to keep up, universities must constantly look for new and innovative ways of teaching and focus on how to design environments that are flexible enough to accommodate and create a dynamic, flexible, technology-rich and collaborative style of learning.

With this in mind, we take a look at six key strategies universities across Australia are using to design and develop flexible and collaborative learning spaces to enhance the learning experience and improve learning outcomes.

Ahead of the7th Annual Learning Space Design Summit 2018, Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Adelaide share insight into the top strategies needed to design and roll-out learning spaces that support 21st century learning.

  1. Involve students in the design process

“One thing that is really important when it comes to learning space design, is to start with a blank sheet. Start by asking your students: what is missing? What could we do to make your learning experience better?

Some of the information we gleaned from this processes was the frustration they had with current things we were providing. Our aim was to keep the slate clean, so students could provide ideas that nobody had ever thought about.

This was important, because we wanted students to feel free to talk to our student ambassadors about their ideas an concerns, which they might not have been comfortable to discuss with management or architects.

During the process, we also had a lot of communication with students via social media. We also ran workshops where we paid students to come and brainstorm ideas. It was a genuine process – not just a form of feedback, but an actual co-creation processes where we started from nothing and together we worked with the student to figure out what would work better.”

Pascale Quester, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic), University of Adelaide

2. Promote collaborative engagement

“At Macquarie University we’re moving into agile and responsive spaces that are based on the needs of learners. This creates the opportunity for collaborative engagement not only amongst students, but also for the educators working with them. Encouraging collaboration allows for project-based learning to occur in an authentic space.

For example, instead of having rows of desk and the knowledge standing at the front of a classroom, spaces are being adapted to promote collaborative engagement and in response to the needs of the learner rather than the teacher.

The learning space is changing as we move away from large theatres and lecture rooms to designing  rooms and spaces focused around facilitating collaboration.”

Professor Iain Hay, Director Professional, Learning and Engagement, Macquarie University

To read the remaining tips from Macquarie University, The University of Adelaide and Charles Sturt University download the full eBook here 

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For more information about the 7th Annual New Generation Learning Space Design Summit 2018 check out the agenda here or visit http://designforlearning.iqpc.com.au 

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