Of Special Note


From the Perspective of Institutional Assets

My personal take-away thought from my LSC Roundtable experience is the importance of identifying existing institutional assets in the earliest stages of planning. On our campus, we have many: amazing human capital, substantive engagement with a broad community of stakeholders beyond the campus, and a diversity of cultures represented by our students and within our faculty.

I leave with a greater awareness of the need to focus on, define, and transform our learning culture by building on such identified assets, with a collective determination to achieve a campus-wide learning culture. I am reflecting on what it would mean if we started giving attention to spaces for learning for everyone in our community—for student learning, faculty and staff learning, everyone learning everywhere?

The Importance of Identifying Existing Institutional Assets in the Earliest Stages of Giving Attention to Spaces


Spotlighting Collaborating Partners

Toward Inclusive Learning Spaces: Physiological, Cognitive, and Cultural Inclusion and the Learning Space Rating System 

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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Spotlighting LSC Roundtables

The Learning Spaces Collaboratory Roundtables are designed to focus on the future of planning 21st century
learning spaces for 21st century learners. Their design reflects research in social creativity:

Social creativity is based on the assumption that the power of the unaided individual mind is fundamentally limited. Although creative individuals are often thought of as working in isolation, much human creativity arises from activities that take place in a social context in which interaction with other people and the artifacts that embody collective knowledge are important contributors to the process.

Because the fundamental problems of the 21st century are systemic, complex, and open-ended, they require the ongoing contributions of many minds, particularly from the people who own the problems and are directly affected by them. Unique new opportunities and challenges to enhance social creativity are facilitated by cultures of participation. (Gerhard Fischer. Social Creativity: Making All Voices Heard: Learning, Social Creativity, Cultures of Participation.)

Their intent is to provide an environment in which academics and architects begin to reframe how 21st century learning spaces are planned: identifying new kinds of questions to be brought to the planning table, embracing the future of planning more audaciously.

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Spotlighting Making the Case


A. From the Perspective of the Learner

Making the case for determining the return on the investment of institutional resources in physical and virtual environments for learning can be calibrated from several perspectives: focusing on learners, institutional programmatic and pedagogical initiatives, faculty and budgets, and, finally, on the institutional image into the future.

  • What difference will new/repurposed spaces have for the experience of the learner?
  • What do we know now about how our students experience learning?
  • If we are to establish baseline data from which to determine the impact of our planning on learners, what do we need to know as we begin?
  • How can we calibrate the return on investment at the level of the individual student, on our graduates?
  • What will be our measures of success for what our students have become, and are recognized for accomplishing in the world?
  • How do we measure the return on an investment in spaces we have intentionally designed as a bridge into the future?

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For much of the 20th century, learning had focused on the acquisition of skills or transmission of information or what we define as “learning about.” Then, near the end of the 20th century learning theorists started to recognize the value of “learning to be,” of putting learning into a situated context that deals with systems and identity as well as the transmission of knowledge. We want to suggest that now even that is not enough. Although learning about and learning to be worked well in a relatively stable world, in a world of constant flux, we need to embrace a theory of learning to become. Where most theories of learning see becoming as a transitional state toward becoming something, we want to suggest that the 21st century requires us to think of learning as a practice of becoming over and over again. …to embrace change and focus on becoming as central and persistent elements of learning.

— Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown. “Learning for a World of Constant Change: Homo Sapiens, Home Faber & Homo Ludens revisited.”


Learning Spaces Collaboratory

The LSC is a community focusing on the future of planning learning spaces.



AAC&U, An LSC Collaborating Partner

Cited at the LSC 2019 Colloquium: We are thinking of spaces as bigger than just a single campus, and about going beyond active learning to think about experimental learning. Thus we thought it important to give attention to globalization and experimental education when thinking if and how our spaces serve such approaches to learning.

From an LSC Webinar: Practical Strategies & Considerations – C. Edward Watson

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The Principle of Choice

“How can the principle of choice be leveraged into planning and designing high-performance settings for learning?

This is the question we ended with; we did not begin with it. We started with a lot of discussion about students, about the experiences of students as learners, and about the potential of empowering the principle of ‘choice’ for students.

The idea of the principle of choice is when the individual student has a role in making choices about their settings for learning. Having this choice makes the student feel big in comparison to the institution as more choices are available and settings become less prescriptive. This phenomenon relates to the idea of building community, of creating a naturalness of access, of spaces that are not intimidating but rather spaces that signal to students that they can make choices, of spaces in which students have the option to form communities from within and not be dictated to from without.”

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Excerpt on Students from Transcript Synthesis: Learning Spaces Roundtables – Why Spaces Matter

What questions should be asked about students, about learners?

These questions, from the summary report of questions articulated in the LSC Roundtables (2016 – 2019), are prompts for thinking about spaces from the perspective of the student?

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

Journal of Learning Spaces

Focus and Scope

A peer-reviewed, open-access journal published biannually, The Journal of Learning Spaces provides a scholarly, multidisciplinary forum for research articles, case studies, book reviews, and position pieces related to all aspects of learning space design, operation, pedagogy, and assessment in higher education.

We define learning as the process of acquiring knowledge, skill, or understanding as a result of study, experience, or teaching.

Learning spaces are designed to support, facilitate, stimulate, or enhance learning and teaching. Learning spaces encompass formal, informal, and virtual environments:

  • formal: lecture halls, laboratories, traditional classrooms
  • informal: learning commons, multimedia sandbox, residential study areas, huddle rooms
  • virtual: learning management systems, social media websites, online virtual environments

We invite submissions of practical and theoretical works from practitioners and academics across a wide range of subject disciplines and organizational backgrounds, including Architecture, Interior and Product Design, Education, Information and Library Science, Instructional Technology, Sociology, and Student and Residential Life. Submissions should focus primarily on learning spaces and their impact on or relationship to teaching and learning.

Journal of Learning Spaces is an Open Access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of Open Access.


From the Field Archive