Learning Spaces for the Digital Age: Blending Space with Pedagogy

Learning Spaces for the Digital Age: Blending Space with Pedagogy

Lynne Hunt (University of Southern Queensland, Australia), Henk Huijser (University of Southern Queensland, Australia) and Michael Sankey (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-114-0.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter shows how virtual and physical learning spaces are shaped by pedagogy. It explores the shift in pedagogy from an orientation to teaching to an emphasis on student learning. In so doing, it touches on Net Generation literature indicating that this concept has a poor fit with the diverse nature of student populations engaged in lifelong learning. The argument is that the skill set required for lifelong learning is not age related. At the core of the chapter is a case study of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) which describes a history of learning environments that have been variously shaped by pedagogy and the limits of technology. It refers to the concept of the ‘edgeless university’, which acknowledges that learning is no longer cloistered within campus walls, and it describes how USQ is engaging with this concept through the development of open source learning materials. An important point in the chapter is that the deliberate design of quality learning spaces requires whole-of-institution planning, including academic development for university teaching staff, themselves often ill-equipped to take advantage of the potential of new learning environments. The import of the discussion is that higher education learning spaces are shaped by deliberate design, and that student learning is optimised when that design is pedagogically informed and properly managed.
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Introduction

This chapter describes the journey from traditional learning spaces to contemporary, open learning environments, including Web 2.0 environments such as wikis, social networking spaces and virtual classrooms and worlds. The concept of ‘learning space’ is helpful in this respect because it provides a framework to explore emerging pedagogies and it broadens conceptualisations of learning beyond classrooms and lecture theatres. It also provides an opportunity to describe the potential of virtual learning spaces such as learning management systems and web-based learning opportunities. The term learning environment is also widely used and in this chapter the two terms are used interchangeably, as both refer to situations – physical or virtual – that are structured to assist student participation and learning. The contemporary higher education context increasingly requires flexibility of access for an increasingly diverse student cohort. Overall, therefore, this chapter argues the need for a carefully planned and appropriately managed design of learning spaces to maximise learning for all students. The key point is that pedagogy informs learning space design.

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