Of Special Note

How to Recapture a Sense of An Agora As a Space for Learning – Questions to Ask

  • How does the sense of “place” or “space” translate to the virtual?
  • Can we create this sense of place within the virtual Agora, and what would the experience for the students and the faculty be like?
  • Where can early evidence of the role of virtual learning in the Agora forecast future opportunities and pitfalls?
  • What should virtual learning bring, and what attributes should it have, to enhance the concept of the Agora?

…We are in a time when we are redesigning for systemic change … and we will come out at the end with new kinds of learning environments. It is our responsibility to make them inclusive, equitable.

These thoughts were expressed in one of the Friday Faculty Webinars hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In the May 2020 Webinar, national leaders explored how the ongoing pandemic disruption of higher education presents both challenges and opportunities for the community.

Their concerns are similar to those being addressed by academics and architects designing and redesigning spaces that meet today’s challenges and embrace future opportunities. Their questions—can virtual environments be spontaneous? and what do people need? are helpful in exploring the LSC question—how can the historic sense of an agora be captured in virtual learning spaces?

AAC&U is an LSC Collaborating Partner

Read More

If we claim that learning can happen anywhere and anytime, what does that mean now? How might we take advantage of existing institutional assets as we reimagine where learning happens now? What does it mean to wrestle as a community to imagine and realize spaces that matter? How might we use this opportunity to focus as a community on issues of equity?

These are some of the questions being addressed in LSC Zoom Roundtables, a regular series of discussions begun in May 2020 in which architects and academics explore how the pandemic has changed how space matters, being reimagined, repurposed. During the AAC&U Annual Conference January 20 – 23, 2021, the LSC will present a virtual session: The Impact of COVID-19 on Shaping Spaces for Learning. Papers from the 2020 LSC zoom roundtables will serve as a resource.

Read More

Planning for Assessing

Research findings are critical in informing the process of planning, as stakeholder teams move through the process of addressing key questions that ultimately shape the learning environment for which they have responsibility—an environment that will make a difference to the learners for whom they are responsible.

In the early days of the LSC (2010), a group convened to shape the LSC’s agenda. We determined it would be to focus on planning for assessing, and that the initial planning question should be about what the resulting spaces would enable the learner to become.

That question about becoming was followed by two others about how learning was experienced and how learning spaces enabled that becoming. how will we know? was the final question in that quartet of planning questions was

Addressing that final question requires attention to evidence spaces mattered—from findings from research and practice—that spaces matter. A major resource for that research is the Journal of Learning Spaces (JLS).

The LSC and the JLS have joined together in a collaboration to enable ease of access for those seeking for evidence, for answers to the question: how do we know?

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

Read More


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.”

Read More


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?




Read More


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

Journal of Learning Spaces


We announce the collaboration between the Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC) and the Journal of Learning Spaces (JLS). A significant feature of this collaboration will be a Library of Evidence. This Library begins with incorporating resources now available through our individual sites, with the addition of recent and emerging findings from research and practice focusing on why spaces matter and how we know.

The resources included in the Library reflect the work of a diversity of stakeholders. This includes individual researchers and teams of researchers from the cognitive sciences, pedagogical, disciplinary and professional communities. Findings from the work of academics and architects at individual colleges and universities will also be incorporated into the Library. The Library of Evidence is designed to inform the work of those responsible for ensuring there is a measurable return in the institutional investment made to shape learning environments in which students—today and tomorrow—thrive.



Library of Evidence>>

From the Field Archive