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Learning and Teaching Reimagined Student Experience and Wellbeing Teaching and Learning

Designing spaces around learning

Aligning physical and virtual resources to students’ requirements

Students with iMac

What is the issue?

Traditionally courses have been designed around either on-campus delivery, distance learning, or a serial blend of the two. In some cases, for a given subject, it has been possible for students to select from these attendance modes. Different attendance modes would, however, often have separate cohorts. In many cases, even though studying for the same qualification, these cohorts would have limited, if any, interaction with each other, and switching study modes would cause discontinuity.

Why is it important to address this?

The immediate measures following the outbreak of COVID19 pushed virtually all programme delivery and study support into virtual spaces. During the transition back to being able to deliver programmes on campus, for some time yet there will almost certainly be limits to the numbers of students that can simultaneously attend lectures, laboratories, studios or other physical spaces. In addition, circumstances will continue to prevent some students from being on campus at all.

How can we improve things for students?

The hybrid learning model addresses these issues by having a common cohort for any subject or qualification, but with parallel on-campus and distance delivery modes available. These modes should complement each other and share equitable study environments and support structures, and common study resources. This should promote continuity of learning through challenging or changing situations from both outside influences and personal circumstances.

What can be done now?

Designing, adapting and combining learning spaces to meet these requirements doesn’t require a new set of learning space considerations, rather it requires a holistic consideration of physical and virtual spaces against a set of outcomes for all students, regardless of their mode of attendance. This will require collaboration between academic staff, student and technical support staff, and this will in turn require senior level coordination. We’ve compiled a down-loadable set of checklists for the different functional areas within an organisation:

  • Leadership and policy
  • Teaching, learning and assessment
  • Equality of access and resources
  • Staff development
  • Infrastructure and enterprise systems

These can be brought together in a cross-organisational approach that focusses all areas towards the student experience, regardless of changing attendance mode requirements.

Find out more…

Our quick guide, Evaluating and designing learning spaces, provides additional links to other information and resources including the relevant sections of our full guide Designing learning and assessment in a digital age.

If you have a central group or team that has been tasked with reviewing your overall response to COVID19 or another disaster recovery situation, please see the COVID-19 organisational response review checklist in our full guide Ensuring continuity of learning during enforced absence.

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