Design for learning spaces and innovative classrooms
During the last couple of decades our perception of what constitutes a good learning environment has changed. Educational institutions are facing new challenges resulting from technologically driven changes in teaching and learning, globalization of higher education and changes in the economic climate. Efficient use of facilities is becoming increasingly important as the funding mechanisms of educational institutions are becoming more results oriented. The design of spaces to support the generation of knowledge by students themselves is an important yet neglected field.
We need to re-conceptualize, re-design and rethink the use of space. Schools and campuses need to be well connected with the surrounding urban fabric and society. Learning spaces should be inspiring and stimulating. They should encourage collaboration and embrace informal learning and serendipity by means of providing facilities for informal meetings and functioning extensions in the cyberspace. As universities compete for the best students, having a diverse range of services that reach beyond the cafeteria are considered important characteristics of an attractive campus.
How can we inform, guide and support the sustainable development of learning and teaching spaces and practices, maximizing flexibility and usability? The selected articles emphasize the importance of user-centered approaches when designing learning environments. It is generally recognized that the quality of design increases if the stakeholders' interests are considered in the design process. Not having learners and teachers participate in the design decisions concerning their learning and working environment would be beyond all reason. A learner centered approach can also improve the space efficiency. Examples demonstrate how lobbies and cafeterias could double as spaces for group work and informal learning. Let’s make every space a learning space!