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Physical learning spaces

In this article, Neil Hughes introduces the idea of physical learning spaces.
A desk with computers used to provide technical support in a classrrom containing a lectern, some comfortable looking chairs and several screens.
© Neil Hughes
While in the previous step we focused our attention on virtual spaces, in this step we will be thinking about the physical spaces of learning in Higher Education. These have undergone an incredible transformation in recent years and look very different from the hallowed halls and lecture theatres reminiscent of novels by the likes of Kingsley Amiss (Lucky Jim) or, more recently, by authors such as Zadie Smith (On Beauty). Today, they often look as if they have been inspired by futuristic film sets or Danish avant-garde cafes replete with the latest technologies, movable walls and opportunities for social connection.

This process of change in university spaces and accommodation has been accelerated significantly by the global pandemic. As a result, many of the world’s leading universities have adapted their learning spaces to enable a ‘work and study from anywhere model’ that affords on campus and remote teaching at the same time. This is something we will explore in the next step when we look at the ‘Hybrid Learning Theatre’ (HLT). It was built, during the pandemic, by the Business School at the University of Amsterdam to foster meaningful interaction and discussion between academics and students on campus and online.

How have the physical learning spaces you teach in changed in recent years? What challenges has this posed and how have you overcome them? What, if any, additional changes would you like to see? Use comments below to discuss.

© University of Nottingham
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Blended and Hybrid Learning Design in Higher Education

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