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Building better learning and learning better building, with learners rather than for learners

Farid Mokhtar Noriega (Based at Architecture at Escuela Superior de Arquitectura y Tecnología (ESAyT), Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain)
Stephen Heppell (Based at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK, and Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain)
Nieves Segovia Bonet (Based at Institución Educativa SEK, Madrid, Spain)
Julliette Heppell (Based at Lampton School, London, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 10 May 2013



The purpose of this paper is to describe the relevant role of users/learners as designers/creators of meaningful and effective learning places and spaces in both digital and virtual worlds.


The paper is based on research and observation of changing trends in users' behavior in physical and digital collaborative workplaces and spaces all over the world.


In this third millennium, the new spirit of knowmadic workers and learners is breaking down old design concepts and rules. The progressively more subtle frontier between virtual and physical learning environments and working environments is changing the use by, and the behavior of, learners in these places and spaces. In this context, the transversal‐thinking, designer‐guided paradigm is rendered effectively useless. The era of user‐led design has started. User‐oriented design is an old trend; it has changed over time. In societies and economies based on learning, reflection and constant collaboration, the individualistic design guru has no place.


This paper discusses the evolving strategic role of users/learners as designers and co‐creators of their own places. Traditional design criteria and theories are outdated. The role of the designer as master/creator is not compatible with the collegiate and collaborative, reflective spirit of knowmadic learners. A consequence is a requirement for new strategies and a redefinition of the designer's role in the creation of space. The axis of design control has shifted.



Mokhtar Noriega, F., Heppell, S., Segovia Bonet, N. and Heppell, J. (2013), "Building better learning and learning better building, with learners rather than for learners", On the Horizon, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 138-148.



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