Educational Equity and the Classroom: Designing Learning-Ready Spaces for All Students

To ensure equitable learning experiences, campuses can build scalable learning-ready spaces that support the multiple teaching identities and philosopy

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Please read this great contribution to our field by Dr. Maggie Beers and Teggin Summers in the latest issue of the EDUCAUSE Review. Great example of using the LSRS in learning space strategic planning. 

Reframing Learning with Learning Glass and Lightboard | EDUCAUSE

A few years back, two professors who had previously only taught in face-to-face courses found themselves developing online courses, deprived of their beloved chalkboards. Matt Anderson at San Diego State University and Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University knew they wanted to preserve the immediacy afforded by drawing by hand while lecturing, but turning away from the camera to draw was even more unacceptable than turning away from a live classroom.

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So proud of the collaboration between San Diego State University and Northwestern around this innovative learning technology. How will you use it on your campus? STEM? Art? What else?

State Filings Seem To Contradict SDSU West Pitch That The University Is Out Of Space | KPBS

San Diego State University appears to be using its classrooms less efficiently than the state would like. The university says the state’s guidelines are out of touch with how campuses are used.

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We all struggle with 'space utilization' numbers. We've heard from many FLEXspace members who say they get push-back when 'losing seats' after redesigning classrooms into active learning spaces, in addition to concern for classroom capacities in general. How is your campus addressing this issue? 

Decreasing Campus Energy Use With Flexible Classrooms and e-Learning

The Australian National University is preparing an Energy Master Plan. The aim is "... to create an Australian world class energy efficient, low-carbon, least-cost campus ...". One target in the existing ANU Environmental Management Plan 2017-2021 is to "Reduce energy use per person by 20 per cent by 2021". New forms of education can help, by using the buildings more efficiently and moving some education online. I suggest these techniques can be used to reduce energy use per person. In particular, teaching staff can be trained to teach in flexible and online mods. Also, a system can be used for students to book a seat.

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Evidence emerging that shows using hybrid online and on-campus course design approaches can provide cost-savings, reduce energy use, and more. 

Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments 

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'Contemporary learning spaces, often termed ‘new generation learning environments’ (NGLEs), have been developed in schools and universities in a number of countries during the past decade (OECD, 2013). However, critical analysis of the learning environments research literature suggests that little rigorous assessment or evaluation of their educative value exists.

The ‘Evaluation of 21st Century Learning Environments’ (E21LE) project will help address this gap through the development and testing of three complementary multi-disciplinary evaluation strategies for learning environments.'

VITaL: The Future of Immersive Learning at SDSU

In Fall 2017, SDSU’s Instructional Technology Services (ITS) launched the Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL) initiative, providing a variety of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and 360º-video immersive tools for use across the SDSU pedagogical spectrum. Today, VITaL serves as an incubator to enable experiences that would be out of reach—if not impossible—in a traditional learning environment, including low-frequency, high-risk scenarios simulating  life-threatening medical conditions, celestial events in outer space, and scientific phenomena occurring at the micro scale. Through a new Learning Research Studio (LRS), located in Adams Humanities (AH-1120), VITaL promotes experimentation with curriculum design and the scholarship of teaching and learning in a flexible learning environment.

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Here is the hot-off-the-press blog post outlining the VITaL initiative at San Diego State University.

As Universities Go Online, Architects Rework Buildings For ‘Active’ Learning

In an interview with, Andy Cohen, one of two Gensler Co-CEOs, underlines his three bucket-principles: one, make design for learner-centered, learner-led education. Two, create flexibility adaptable spaces. Three, enable “learning everywhere,” at any time.

Boiling this down to places and spaces, Cohen is seeking an architecture that maximizes the benefit of when students are in the same physical space, getting the most out of that now more rarified occurrence. He talks about encouraging people to link and work and project teams to pop-up in “found spaces” that the architects have artfully left there.

In all this, education building design is following the workplace revolution which for at least two decades has seen office spaces that are open and adaptable, to encourage fluid, collaborative interactions. This itself was office buildings mimicking artisan and design company studio formats.

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Bottom line: Design flexible, adaptable spaces to enable learner-led activities, anytime, anywhere.

What Teachers Must Consider When Moving to Flexible Seating

"Each student gets a chance to set up the room on a rotating schedule." 

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Campfires, watering holes, and caves -- when it comes to flexible learning environments, there are many considerations and stakeholder perspectives. Include the students themselves - give them a 'voice' in rearranging the space.  And what about organizational considerations like rules/policies regarding desks and seating capacity? What about the custodial staff and their concerns about cleaning, maintenance, and safety? 


What are your considerations, successes, struggles?