Learning Spaces – Key Ideas

What is meant by learning spaces and how can I apply this to my practice?

Learning space is used to refer to all or any combination of the following:

  • the physical and digital facilities used for formal teaching
  • the non-formal space used by the academic community and how it is experienced in support of learning
  • spaces understood more broadly as conditions that foster belonging and develop identity

Relating learning space to practice

Academics at Sheffield Hallam, through a number of workshops, have explored what learning space means to their practice. These ideas are captured in a set of Viewpoints cards: Learning Spaces Viewpoints Lens for academic practice. Ideas on the reverse of the cards provide points, suggestions and examples to consider.

  • Communal – The space is welcoming, accessible and familiar. It helps to foster a sense of belonging promoting co-operation and a confident participatory culture appropriate to the discipline.
  • Collaborative – The space encourages peer co-operation, collaborative learning, and co-production of knowledge and learning artefacts.
  • Adaptable – The space can be changed by the academic and students to support a range of learning activities within sessions and through the module or programme.
  • Authentic – The space is authentic to the discipline and its specialised activities and the technology, equipment and furniture allow students to learn by using methods they will use as graduates. It fosters a sense of academic or professional identity and culture.
  • Engaging – The space inspires, stimulates and supports active, creative and reflective engagement.
  • Comfortable – The space is physically comfortable, light and attractive.
  • Functional – The features of the space are utilised effectively to engage the students, promoting interactively, challenge and full participation.