The Future of Learning and Teaching in Next Generation Learning Spaces: Volume 12


Table of contents

(26 chapters)

This chapter will explore how the places of learning might look in next generation learning spaces where learners traverse physical and virtual spaces using personalised learning strategies. It will examine how learning spaces may represent ubiquitous spaces in which the learner undertakes some form of study or learning. Although there has been extensive examination of the design of spaces for knowledge generation (Keppell & Riddle, 2012, 2013; Souter, Riddle, Sellers, & Keppell, 2011) there has been little attention given to how learners customise and personalise their own physical and virtual learning spaces as they traverse their learning journey. Seven principles of learning space design will be adapted for use by the personalised learner. Personalised learning strategies encompass a range of knowledge, skills and attitudes that empower the learner to take charge of their learning within next generation learning spaces. Personalised learning consists of six broad concepts: digital citizenship, seamless learning, learner engagement, learning-oriented assessment, lifelong and life-wide learning and desire paths. Teachers will need to assist learners to design their own personalised learning spaces throughout formal education to encourage learners to be autonomous learners throughout their lifetime. In order to assist learners in developing personalised learning strategies we need to teach them about learning space literacies. We can’t assume learners have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to identify and effectively utilise appropriate learning spaces that optimises engagement.


Technology provision and Next Generation Learning Spaces (NGLS) should respond to the active learning needs of twenty-first century learners and privilege multiple ‘pictures of learning’ and associated knowledge work. In this sense it is important for NGLS to be pedagogically agnostic – agile enough to cater for a range of pedagogical approaches within the one physical space. In this chapter, the democratising and potentially disruptive power of new digital technologies to facilitate the privileging of these multiple pictures of learning is explored, recognising the significant rise in student ownership and academic use of mobile technologies. With their escalating ubiquity and their facilitation of active knowledge work, research around considerations for the implementation of mobile digital technologies is canvassed, highlighting a range of issues to be considered. This is part of the ‘hidden work’ of technology implementation. Without this hidden work, the potential of NGLS in facilitating and privileging active learning and multiple pictures of learning is diminished and the potential for reinforcing already powerful and potentially exclusionary modes of knowledge work increases. Finally to assist in articulating the hidden work of digitally enabled NGLS, a model is proposed to help understand how ease of use and confidence impacts on student and academic knowledge work.


This chapter focuses on learning space design for students’ technology-rich lifestyles, in particular the evolution and future of learning spaces in the United States. JISC design principles – bold, supportive, future proof, creative, and enterprising – frame discussion in the chapter’s first section, “Planning for the learning spaces of tomorrow.” The section begins with pioneering work in the field and follows with recent learning spaces (both classrooms and informal learning environments) that seek new and innovative ways for students to collaborate. Examples clearly point to students’ need for continual access to flexible, tech-rich spaces that support their work and study habits.

The chapter’s second section, “The future of learning spaces: On-demand apps and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT),” is a case study focused on software virtualization’s influence on learning space design at Indiana University. The section brings in examples from the University of South Florida and the University of Iowa, asserting that physical and virtual learning spaces must be designed to come together seamlessly, echoing students’ on-the-go lifestyles and constant connectedness. Ultimately, the section makes a bold contention about the evolution of learning spaces: Any space can become a tech-rich learning environment, if students have access to virtualized software.

Throughout, the chapter touches on compelling questions about meeting the learning needs of digital natives: How do we challenge traditional educational paradigms? Can we flip the classroom to further the potential of all learners? What is the role of collaboration in learning? Which models will energize and inspire learners and instructors of the future?


The purpose of this chapter is to provide a framework to guide learning and teaching practice in next generation learning spaces. The framework is informed by both learning and teaching theory and the current context of the sector. The framework provides guidance to those who teach in next generation learning spaces and is illustrated with examples of effective pedagogic practices that use the affordances of spaces while avoiding their limitations. The chapter discusses the tension between next generation learning space design and use. Design is influenced by drivers ranging from a need to accommodate ever-larger student numbers and responding to digital technologies and other developments in educational media, to providing for new approaches to learning. Use is determined by understandings of the teaching task, which can range from presentation by a teacher through to students working individually or in groups to generate meaningful knowledge, useful skills and professional values. In this chapter we identify drivers underpinning the creation and design of next generation learning spaces in universities today and associated expectations of the ways in which the spaces will be used. We reflect on understandings of sound pedagogic practice and work through to implications for learning and teaching in NGLS. In some cases advocated pedagogic practice asks teaching staff to make the most of spaces designed to allow students to engage constructively in their learning. In other cases it involves teaching constructively in spite of the design of the space.


This chapter will explore how assessment might look in next generation learning spaces where we have the potential to merge physical and virtual activities. Students now have ready access to a world of resources within their classroom and this fundamentally changes the nature of learning and assessment. The trend toward gamification of learning and assessment will be examined and the issue of assessment in new educational environments such as MOOCs will be explored. The impact of the semantic web (Web 3.0), where web objects and their context are all linked and objects have memory of how an individual student used them on previous occasions, will be discussed.

Next generation learning spaces encapsulate the affordances of both physical and virtual spaces and yet many assessment tasks are still designed as if students occupied only one of these spaces. Teachers will need to design more authentic, meaningful tasks that will engage students in using the full range of their capabilities and available resources, both physical and virtual. Students come together physically to engage in the social construction of their knowledge and can use the virtual spaces to broaden the social dimension of their learning environment.

Gamification of learning and assessment will require new approaches to defining tasks as teachers will need to decide how to incorporate diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment components within a more holistic educational environment. Game theory will be blended with learning theory in curriculum design and will result in the redesign of learning and assessment activities that are based on engagement (flow), user needs, and an evidence-centered design approach.


A key challenge for higher education institutions around the world is to provide active and engaging learning encounters for a new generation of students to develop their skills for work in a rapidly changing environment. Typically, these students are accustomed to being digitally connected 24/7 and they have real-time access to truly global learning resources. The challenge facing higher education providers is how to create active and engaging learning encounters within an aging stock of infrastructure by a generation of traditional academics, both of which generally foster teacher-led instruction.

In considering this conundrum, this chapter is viewed through two lenses: (1) a teacher practising problem-based learning (PBL) for more than 20 years and (2) an educational planner who designs learning spaces. Together the paper explores the challenges of pedagogy and design, some disruptors that are making change imperative and, specifically, the opportunities available in both pedagogy and design to create new learning activities and spaces. The paper argues that curricula need to be dominated by collaborative investigation and problem solving in spaces that encourage and afford such activity.


This chapter identifies the attributes that learners need in order to learn effectively in new technology rich educational environments. There are a number of different ways of synthesising the findings from this emerging literature which relies heavily on qualitative research. This chapter reports on a literature review which adopted a deliberately interpretative qualitative meta-analysis, synthesising the findings from 15 key studies. As such, the chapter demonstrates a way of reviewing and compiling current research. The synthesis resulted in the identification of six attributes that learners need to do well in next generation learning spaces. These are engaged, connected, confident, adaptable, intentional and self-aware. Although some of these attributes are applicable to all learning contexts, those of being connected, confident, adaptable, and intentional seem to be particularly important in learning in next generation learning spaces. The challenge is to design learning activities that encourage and reward the development of these attributes. The hope is that through both its findings and its method, this chapter provokes debate on what it now means to be a successful learner in today’s technology rich world.


This chapter explores a set of principles that underpin ensuring that the learning needs of all students are addressed in next generation learning spaces. With increasingly diverse higher education environments and populations, higher education needs to move from seeing student diversity as problematic and deficit-based, to welcoming, celebrating and recognising diversity for the contributions it makes to enhancing the experience and learning outcomes for all students. The principles of Universal Design for Learning (CAST, 2011) provide a framework for high-quality university teaching and learning, as well as guidance on the multiple methods and means by which all students can be engaged and learn in ways that best suit their individual styles and needs. An inclusive approach is important pedagogically and applies to both the physical and virtual environments and spaces inhabited by students. When the design of physical environments does not incorporate universal design principles, the result is that some students can be locked out of participating in campus or university life or, for some, the energy required to participate can be substantial. With the digital education frontier expanding at an exponential rate, there is also a need to ensure that online and virtual environments are accessible for all. This chapter draws on the relevant research and the combined experience of the authors to explore an approach to inclusive practices in higher education next generation learning spaces and beyond.


International figures on university expenditure on the development of next generation learning spaces (NGLS) are not readily available but anecdote suggests that simply retrofitting an existing classroom as an NGLS conservatively costs $AUD200,000, while developing new buildings often cost in the region of 100 million dollars and over the last five years, many universities in Australia, Europe and North America have developed new buildings. Despite this considerable investment, it appears that the full potential of these spaces is not being realised.

While researchers argue that a more student centred learning approach to teaching has inspired the design of next generation learning spaces (Tom, Voss, & Scheetz, 2008) and that changed spaces change practice (Joint Information Systems Committee, 2009) when ‘confronted’ with a next generation learning spaces for the first time, anecdotes suggest that many academics resort to teaching as they have always taught and as they were taught. This chapter highlights factors that influence teaching practices, showing that they are to be found in the external, organisational and personal domains.

We argue that in order to fully realise significant improvements in student outcomes through the sector’s investment in next generation learning spaces, universities need to provide holistic and systematic support across three domains – the external, the organisational and the personal domains, by changing policies, systems, procedures and localised practices to better facilitate changes in teaching practices that maximise the potential of next generation learning spaces.


This chapter takes an implementation case study approach to inform project planners, senior academics, and academic developers about the design and implementation of a professional development (PD) program that prepared 700 faculty in an Australian university to reimagine their teaching practice. The catalyst for this transformation was the move from traditional classrooms to next generation learning spaces (NGLS) in the newly constructed and purpose-built environment of RMIT University’s Swanston Academic Building (SAB). The study identifies the challenges and change management issues faced by the project team, faculty, and other stakeholders.

Default teaching styles for many tertiary teachers can replicate the “best” and “worst” practices from their own student experience. As actors in their own classrooms tertiary teachers autonomously create learning environments that they consider appropriate to communicate the content, context, and culture of their particular discipline. The design and implementation of the PD and transition plan took into account the needs and perceptions of staff from each discipline area, the affordances of the new learning spaces, and their associated technologies.

This chapter contributes to a growing body of knowledge about the experience of academic and teaching staff during transition from traditional to NGLS, providing a description of the process undertaken in one university, the outcomes achieved, and the lessons learnt.


The promise of Next Generation Learning Spaces appears to remain unfulfilled. This chapter explores why and how the design of professional learning for academics teaching in such spaces can and should be transformed. It takes a fresh look at why old professional development is failing and proposes a new way to engage academics in their own professional learning. Rather than continuing with traditional professional development that is most often, ad hoc, formal and centrally driven, comprising mandated professional development workshops and a website that may only be visited once, the chapter explores the move from ‘old’ professional development to ‘new’ professional learning. It draws on the fields of organisational theory, cognitive theory and behavioural economics.

New professional learning is characterised by a ‘pull’ rather than a ‘push’ philosophy. Academic staff themselves drive their own learning, choosing what, when and how they want to learn to become better teachers. Multiple and various learning opportunities embedded in day to day work are just-in-time, self-directed, performance-driven and evaluated within an organisational system. In this way the institutional setting influences behaviour by ‘nudging’ habits and setting defaults resulting in academics making the ‘right’ decisions and doing the ‘right’ thing. By addressing the compelling issue of how to enhance academic staff teaching capability, this chapter can help university leaders to think beyond the professional development approaches of yesterday. Aligning with this new direction will result in enhanced learning and teaching in the future.


Designing learning environments is increasingly about mediating between the interactions in real and virtual space of largely self-organising learning communities. Traditional ways of briefing designers are less and less proficient, as the demands made on space become less timetabled, more probabilistic. ‘learning landscapes’ 1 are proposed in which clusters of activity can be seen to be taking place across a field, that activity can be browsed, audited and fully engaged with. Such organic flows of interest and concentration are hindered by traditional demarcated space models, and attempts to enable the flows through ‘flexible’ interlinking of rooms fail.

There is evidence 2 that the organic interactions between learners grow exponentially when these learners are connected together as virtual communities in open, robust virtual platforms. But this works best when these interactions are grounded from time to time in real places. How can designers best provide spaces that support learning in real and virtual space? Should design teams be composed of people with skills in devising real and virtual space?

Increasingly the answer is ‘yes’, and this places strains on procurement processes. Built form can take a long time to deliver. So can virtual platforms take time to devise and make operable. Can these processes be aligned? The concepts for RMIT’s Design Hub, a physical design research platform, were developed through research conducted twelve years before the building was completed. Many of the gap years were taken up with establishing the financial basis for constructing the Hub. During this time the concepts were validated by testing with various potential user groups, and a further tranche of international investigations validated the level of innovation being sought. The process for RMIT’s Swanston Academic Building (SAB) was smoother and shorter, but it involved a year in which a ‘learning landscape’ concept was moulded through intensive work with user client focus groups.

Neither of these projects has a virtual doppelganger, though both have sophisticated and evolvable IT systems. The Hub embeds a process of curating research interaction and dissemination that is hampered by this fact. The mediated learning landscape of the SAB falls short of the originating concepts, – because space constraints did not allow for an undivided, flowing landscape. A well designed virtual counterpart could have provided what the insertion of walls has obscured. Should all future innovative learning and researching environments have a virtual counterpart from the outset?

There is an emerging trend for such paired environments in creative city thinking and in museums. Surely briefing and procuring real and virtual environments in tandem will enliven future space use in universities?


Many universities are currently investing significant sums of money into refurbishing existing learning spaces and/or building further infrastructure (including Next Generation Learning Spaces (NGLS)) to support learning and teaching in the face-to-face context. While this is usually welcome by staff and students, there is often a concern that designs are not informed by input from appropriate stakeholders.

This chapter brings together information from a range of sources to provide practical ideas and advice on designing robust, whole-of-lifecycle evaluations for learning space projects. By incorporating pre- and post-occupancy stages, involving a wide array of stakeholders and looking beyond surveys and focus groups as evaluation techniques, universities can ensure that future designs take into consideration the experiences and context of staff and students at the institution as well as lessons learned from previous projects.


Victoria University is one of the few Australian dual-sector institutions that offers vocational, further, and higher education programs. The University offers short courses, apprenticeships, certificates, diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate studies to 40,000 students. The campuses are primarily located in the western region of Melbourne (Australia) but include Sydney and international sites. The predominant student cohorts come from low socio-economic backgrounds and are the first in family to attend a university.

This chapter reports on the joint partnership between local councils and Victoria University in the development of collaborative learning hubs that anticipate broader access to learning for community members whilst providing links back to larger campus locations. The intended aim of these partnerships is to increase tertiary participation and completions, whilst engaging/reengaging local community members in the art of learning.

The University has embarked on a project to design and implement collaborative learning hubs that provide tertiary courses in a number of local councils. 1 The project builds on the strategic directions of both the councils and the University, which sees itself as the University of Opportunity for people who would traditionally struggle to be successful in tertiary education. The two councils that Victoria University is partnering with are Hume City Council and Hobsons Bay City Council.


This chapter focuses on the challenges and the possibilities that exist for College and University leadership, academic planners, instructional technologists, campus planners, architects, and others involved in building the transformative student experience that has been the underpinning of education since the Raphael’s School of Athens. Students need to engaged in the learning and have meaningful interactions with the faculty and classmates.

Economic and societal influences during the first decade of the 21st century have illuminated the demand for access to education through emerging technologies in both physical and virtual spaces. These new opportunities have not developed without painstaking disruptions to conventional models for academic and campus planning. The disruptions have led to opportunities to pilot new modalities for curriculum development that blend both online and on ground learning. Parallel opportunities exist for piloting learning spaces that support blended learning.

Academics and campus planners alike have realized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to planning effective formal and informal learning spaces. What is clear is moving the student experience from one that is transactional to transformational requires adhering to grounded best practices in teaching, learning, and campus planning, establishing a team of informed and engaged stakeholders, and developing empathy and authenticity in the planning process for both the spaces and the pedagogies.


This chapter looks to the future of research in next generation learning spaces. It begins with a review of the literature and concludes with the implications for future research. The review demonstrates that most ‘next generation learning space’ research has focused on the design and evaluation of spaces. We know that students like the spaces, but we don’t know if the spaces alone are effective in improving student learning or if the spaces in combination with changed pedagogic practices and/or curriculum design improve learning. There are many opportunities for researchers to provide much needed evidence to institutions on the interrelationships between next generation learning spaces design, teaching practices, curriculum design and learning outcomes.

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International Perspectives on Higher Education Research
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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