In many education environments there is a drive to reduce the amount of specialised mono-functional learning space that is often expensive to construct and difficult to utilise intensively towards creating more multi-purpose flexible spaces that can be used for a wide range of learning activities. In these cases it is the re-arrangement of the furniture elements within the space that is used to support the different learning activities that occur in that space.
Group teaching and learning spaces
Lecture rooms and classrooms form a large component of the Higher Education estate and will continue to dominate – but the traditional format of these spaces is being transformed to incorporate multiple learning modes. Flexible furniture arrangements will be needed to accommodate groups of varying sizes, using varying layouts, preferably in square rather than rectangular rooms (the former being more adaptable).
Active modes – learning by doing. Practical learning can take place in technological subjects requiring space for observation as well as for performing the task in hand.
Virtual representations play an important role in drawing learners into contact with complex information – in real time from another location or from prepared sources. These can be HIVEs (highly interactive virtual environments), with advanced ICT – possible in many subjects but more likely to be found aligned within scientific or technological studies.
Peer-to-peer environments and social learning spaces
Spaces to facilitate the positive effects of being in a learning group that is part of a learning community. Settings where informal learning can take place (in cyber cafes, for example).
Groups of learning spaces designed for a range of learning modes, building on acknowledged benefits of using multiple learning modes to reinforce understanding. Traditional clusters include large group learning spaces and small seminar rooms. Newer clusters incorporate interactive and group learning spaces and social learning spaces as well as more traditional lecture halls and classrooms (though with enhanced technology).
Individual learning spaces
Effective learning usually involves time in active, solo study and writing or creation mode – typically in library areas, computer rooms and study bedrooms.
Outside space, and particularly space between buildings, plays an important role in aiding learning. Wireless broadband provision and microclimate design can extend the use of these areas.