Of Special Note

Design Approaches that Meet the COVID-19 Challenge


  • Think of every space within a particular building as a space for learning: do an audit that gives special attention to in-between spaces.
  • Look at in-between spaces—spaces for unstructured and informal learning, spaces. Audit your in-between spaces—cafes, lounges, exercise rooms, outdoor patios—for their potential as a space in which students experience learning. Look at alcoves, possible touchdown areas in highly trafficked-spaces.
  • Think of a particular building as an agent of change—how it can create, identify, and accelerate new ways for learners to collaborate in their learning and research, new ways to transform the culture of learning within a community of learners.
  • Think about how each individual building becomes part of a network of interactive spaces 24/7, offering physical and digital spaces that welcome students, support their educational journeys, facilitate student success.

– from Snapshots of Spaces that Anticipate the Future


The LSC is a community of academics and architects focusing on the future of learning spaces.

From the Field: LSC Collaborating Partners

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. We equip our community with the knowledge, resources, and community-building opportunities needed to help shape strategic IT decisions at every level in higher education. A major initiative of EDUCAUSE is the Learning Space Rating System (LSRS).

The LSRS provides institutions with a way of measuring how the planning, design, and support of their learning spaces encourages multiple modes of learning, especially active learning. The LSRS Team intends that the system be used to assess the potential of physical environments to enable a spectrum of teaching and learning engagements. The rating system enables institutions not only to anticipate the effectiveness of their own facilities but also to benchmark their environments against best practices within the higher education community. The LSRS also provides institutions a way to measure their progress toward meeting strategic goals for their campus classrooms. Finally the LSRS, by providing a common point of reference, enables all community members to advocate for more effective learning spaces. EDUCAUSE now announces the LSRS V3.

EDUCAUSE is an LSC Collaborating Partner

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The LSC is beginning a series of postings and conversations focusing on what we know about how spaces influence the experience of learning and how we go about planning for assessing such spaces.

Toward Inclusive Learning Spaces: Physiological, Cognitive, and Cultural Inclusion and the Learning Space Rating System (LSRS V3)
–  Richard Holeton, Assistant Vice Provost for Learning Environments, Emeritus – Stanford University

Inclusive learning space design should be based on a tripartite framework addressing the diverse physiological, cognitive, and cultural needs of learners.

Clearly, learning environments should aim to engage learners, make participants feel welcome, and give everyone an equal opportunity to participate—that is, they should be inclusive. The pedagogical design is paramount in this effort, and well-articulated sets of principles such as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines have been developed to inform inclusive teaching practices in the classroom. Likewise, instructional designers have made good progress in understanding how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in online learning environments.

But how can we apply such insights to designing physical learning spaces? Can we complement inclusive teaching practices, and even facilitate inclusion directly, by how we design and provision classrooms and other learning spaces?

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How can we create a campus that promotes a sense of belonging, community, and well-being — a campus that has the potential to increase the number of learners who persist to completion? It begins with honoring the uniqueness of every learner.
 – Susan Whitmer, Consultant – Susan Whitmer Studios

One prompting question to ask comes from Whitmer’s paper, “Inclusive Campus Environments: An Untapped Resource for Fostering Learner Success.”

One central point of her argument is that campuses have to understand the learners’ journey—that the best place to state an integrated planning process for an inclusive campus environment is conversations with stakeholders. In such conversations we can find out from learners about a valuable learning moment they experienced, what makes them motivated to learn. (Whitmer’s focus on learners and what they are to become is an echo of the AAC&U webinar recently spotlighted by the LSC.)

Part of our work in preparing a new generation of leaders is to work with our students to help them understand the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is not only an important part of their realities and experiences, but as an asset to our decision making and as an asset to our effective performance as individuals, as organizations, as nations, and as a world.

—AAC&U May 2020 Friday Faculty Seminar Let’s Start with “How Are You Doing?”

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LSC/JLS Library Of Evidence

Findings from Research & Practice – What Works in Planning for Assessing Learning Spaces

Assessment: A Strategy for Gathering Evidence of What Works in Shaping Spaces for Learning
The LSC Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners
 Jillian Kinzie, NSSE/Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research

Assessment and Learning Spaces

The assessment of learning outcomes—defined as what students will know, be able to do, the skills and competencies that they can forward—is the current coin of the educational assessment realm. However, when it comes to the issue of the physical environment, we must ask:

What is important and possible to measure about the impact of space on the experience of learning?

Assessment results should ultimately answer this question:

How we will know the spaces we are planning will make a difference, or how do we know what difference current spaces are making in regard to the quality of the learning experiences of our students?

The assessment loop can be applied to all phases of designing learning spaces—from planning to post-occupancy, ongoing assessment and redesign of spatial affordances. In fact, planning for assessment should be intentionally integrated into each stage of planning, designing, and using learning spaces. Take care, however, that assessment results not dictate final decisions; professional judgments must be applied in interpreting evidence and taking appropriate action.

As with all assessment undertakings, assessing learning spaces is fundamentally about asking the right questions. To address the current pressure for accountability for student learning, it is critical that learning spaces go beyond traditional measures of use, efficiency and service, and detail the extent to which the space enhances the experiences of learning and teaching.



LSC/JLS Library of Evidence>>

From the Field Archive