Re-imagining Learning Spaces in Higher Education

As re-imagining learning spaces takes the lead as one of the top trends for 2018, many institutions have or are considering major space and course redesigns to promote active learning. Whether your institution refers to it as project, problem, or blended learning, these technology rich classrooms are in high demand across campuses to support this pedagogical shift, but often represent less than 5% of the total instructional space so, reserving one can prove to be difficult. Institutions looking for cost-effective solutions should consider revisiting a 2013 look at informal spaces by the Taylor & Francis Group (TFG). Three of the nine attributes identified in What makes a successful informal learning space? are particularly relevant as institutions strive to maximize available space and ensure equitable learning experiences regardless of classroom availability.

Destination – Where Learners Go to Study

Quick – think of your favorite spot on campus. Chances are a specific classroom did not come to your mind, not even one of the newly redesigned technologically rich classrooms, and won’t for students either. According to TFG, preferred places are often close to more formal settings like lecture halls and have or allow on-site refreshments. Think of seating areas near campus coffee bars, in courtyards, casual seating in libraries and the like. The downside is that often the most popular locations frequently lack ready access to outlets and may not have digital resources handy; however, there are tools available that easily turn static informal areas into useful learner-ready spaces.

Access to Technology Resources

Learner-ready spaces should be comfortable, flexible and allow learners and instructors to interact with both content and each other. Classrooms configured for Active Learning represent the apex model for this concept, but as we’ve noted are costly and quite limited in number. However, by looking to more affordable and flexible tech options institutions can transform under-used informal areas into learner-ready spaces. Quilla™, a digital eWriter, is such resource. Weighing just 22 pounds, Quilla devices are highly mobile and are easy to move from space to space as collaborative sessions progress. Since it uses WiFi and has a 16 hour battery no outlets or ports are required which means learners can truly congregate anywhere – even in the coffee bar. Quilla uses ePaper technology which is easily read even in bright sunlight. For those who envision the sunny courtyard outside the science building as your go-to destination, you’re covered.

Learner-ready spaces should be comfortable, flexible and allow learners and instructors to interact with both content and each other.

Timely Access to Informal Learning Spaces

Flexible, on-demand access is the hallmark of an attractive informal destination. Since learners lean towards zones with availability beyond regular hours these areas should top an institution’s list for transformation to learner-ready spaces. When conversation over coffee serendipitously evolves into ideas worth noting and developing, Quilla, a tool that is always on, is the perfect just-in-time device to capture. Access also encompasses utility. Quilla’s walk-up and use functionality doesn’t require extensive training and most users will intuitively understand the common hand gestures that manipulate content.

Revitalizing informal areas into learner-ready spaces with flexible digital tools is a cost-effective way to ensure campuses have a variety of collaboration zones available. Providing devices like Quilla that don’t require any set up or outlets and can be moved anywhere makes the transformation even easier. So grab your favorite coffee and a Quilla and head to that back corner with the comfortable chairs and let your next big idea evolve.

To see how Quilla can enhance learning spaces at your institution, book a personalized demo.

Leave a Comment