Torin Monahan – Flexible Space and Built Pedagogy: Emerging IT



Torin Monahan – Flexible Space and Built Pedagogy: Emerging IT
Torin Monahan – Flexible Space and Built Pedagogy: Emerging IT Embodiments (2002)
“I assume that built environments afford conditions of practice by their very design, and that these
affordances embody political values that translate into learning activities.” (pg. 1)
Flexibility – movable furniture, re-configurable rooms, passageways
Flexibility also encompasses building in a way that embraces the unforeseen future
Monahan breaks flexibility down into 5 elements – fluidity (designing space so individuals, sightlines,
sound, light and air are considered); versatility (multiple use space); convertibility (how easily can the
space be repurposed); scalability (can the space be expanded or made smaller); modifiability (does the
design invite the use to reconfigure the space – make it their own?)
Need to consider that space is both physical and virtual –
Physical space -- I can move through the room and you can still see me and interact with me
Virtual space – Body is in a physical space while the mind is in a virtual place (physical concerns and
virtual concerns) single focus cameras that do not pick up everyone in the space – can be seen? You are
not in class.
Policies of using the space can discourage the use of space
“Educational architecture literature grounds itself in a conviction that the design of built spaces
influences the behaviors and actions of individuals within those spaces. To a certain extent, these
spaces embody the pedagogical philosophies of their designers” (p. 5)
Building flexible space requires more energy to be focused on the type of activities and use of
technological activities that occur within a space
Build for learning activities that incorporate technology
Concept of “sociality” – “recognizes that identity construction is inseparable from the relationship
between individuals, spaces and practices.” (p. 7)
Nancy Van Note Chism “Challenging traditional assumptions and rethinking learning spaces” in Educause
Learning Spaces (2006).
“We can facilitate deeper and richer learning when we design spaces with learning in mind.” (pg. 2.1)
Individuals are constantly learning no where they are located – they are learning through experiences
and reflection
The pursuit of learning is changing – more emphasis on interaction, team work, practical experience
(hands-on), developing thinking abilities
Moving away from the notion that learning occurs only in specific space, at a specific time – there is
always a front of the room, that learning is a quiet, individual effort – the ability to hear and see is only a
concern in a large lecture halls
Learning theory – “active construction of knowledge by the learner.” “Environments that provide
experience, stimulates the senses, encourage the exchange of information, and offer opportunities for
rehearsal, feedback, application, and transfer are most likely to support learning.” (p. 2.4)
Characteristics of the learners are changing
More culturally diverse
Mix of age and experiences
Higher percentage of taking courses and working
So the design of the learning spaces need to change to accommodate current perceptions of learning
(social and experiential) and our students
Space for groups
Technology to screen share
Table tops/desk tops with room for technology and learning materials.
Van Note Chism’s space elements:
Flexibility: ability to move seamlessly from one type of learning activity to another (small group work to
large group discussion)
Comfort: Is the seating comfortable, work surface is appropriately sized for mobile devices plus learning
Sensory stimulation: Is the spaces’ ambiance inviting to the individual
Technology support: Enough wireless connections, enough electrical outlets or portable power devices,
display systems for screen sharing
Decenteredness: There is no front to the room, the space invites all individuals to participate in the
learning activity
Studio classroom: Flexible furniture, integrated technology, availability to higher end technology for
everyone, facilitation of group work
Information Commons/Collaboratory: Spaces, often in libraries, that support group work
Living-learning spaces: Integrating classes into the residence hall
Corridor niches: Designing hallways to encourage studying and meeting space – accidental learning
Graves and Berg (2009). 5.5 Support Teaching and Learning through the Intelligent Design of Learning
Support Spaces: A Griffith University Example. 5.5 Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Positive
Outcomes by Design.
Graves and Berg Principles for the environment:
Create spaces that can be used in multiple ways (either singular or in conjunction with other
Maximize the flexibility of the space
Use vertical space as well as horizontal
Integration of functions which where separate previously
Maximize both teacher and student control of the space
Develop space that allows for a diverse set of activities to occur in the space
Access, use and ownership of space maximized for the student (all pg. 67)
To meet the changes in pedagogy, changes must happen in the design of space
Refers to Lomas & Oblinger (2006) student characteristics [digital, mobile, independent, social and
Questions to think about
What happens here?
How is the space used?
Elements to include:
Natural light
Bring outdoors indoors
Activity zones
Use design to declare the appropriate behavior for the space
Use color, textures, materials, objects to create the ambiance of the space
Technology support – wireless access, electricity, writing surfaces, screen sharing systems
JISC Designing Spaces for Effective Learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design (2006)
“A learning space should be able to motivate learners and promote learning as an activity, support
collaborative as well as formal practice, provide personalized and inclusive environment, and be flexible
in the face of changing needs.”
Motivational effect of spaces with natural light, easy and comfortable to move in
Collaboration is encouraged – learning through social interaction
Personalisation and inclusion – technology as an enabler rather than a gate keeper
Pedagogy first – “The prevailing pedagogic approach has swung towards active and collaborative
learning, but room design and staff skill sets do not always reflect this.”
Future proofing -- ensure design can accommodate change
Tools fit for purpose – The use of technology does not mean “effective teaching or learning” but can
help the teaching and learning