Antoniou, V. (2013) Design for Learning Spaces and Innovative Classrooms. e-Learning Papers  n.º 34. October 2013.

Learning Spaces as Accelerators of Innovation Ecosystem Development

Learning Spaces as Accelerators of Innovation Ecosystem Development In-depth_34_2

“The Aalto Teaching and Education Evaluation TEE brought up interesting aspects with respect to implementing the Knowledge Triangle throughout universities. TEE brought a strong message to encourage developing innovative learning spaces on the Aalto implementation agenda (Aalto 2011):

• Aalto should target more development activities in its curriculum and learning environment initiatives, especially for the first-year studies which are essential to learning-tolearn;

• Aalto should take advantage of situations in which studies are focused on solving real life cases and many study teams include also professionals to apply lessons from the classroom to their work environment. Further, they include projects that require students to work across traditional boundaries;

• Aalto should motivate university students to effective and target-oriented studies by developing teaching methods and support systems, such as students’ personal study plans, multidisciplinary study teams and virtual learning environments.

The e-Learning Café project of the University of Porto: innovative learning spaces, improving students’ engagement in active and collaborative learning

This paper reports the ongoing research project headed by the University of Porto and the research group Centre of Spatial Representation and Communication, from de R&D Centre of its Faculty of Architecture (FAUP), which aims the design and study of hybrid spatial environments: E-Learning Centres. Our main objective is to present and discuss the contribution of the E-Learning Café project of the U.Porto and of the successful implementation of its program, focused on learning physical spaces able to combine social interaction with diverse pedagogical and cultural activities. All these have proven to be an important relational dimension for all the people working or studying at U. Porto and an asset to foster the openness of the University to the society.

Full text:

‘The first E-Learning Café designed in U. Porto – E-Learning Café of Asprela – has been in use since 2008 and its new architecture took advantage of the open space configuration of the atrium, first floor room and double height ceiling areas of an already existing University building. Its program consists of four main interrelated spaces: Cafeteria / Bar, Multimedia room, Chillout room and Work / Study room. The aim was to create a strong, coherent and flexible spatial design, linked to the new E-Learning Café program. A new set of interrelated spaces, having each one of those places, an individual ambience and design reinforcing its particular purpose or use, and the adoption of solutions that assured easiness for users or programmers to change some characteristics or ambiences of those spaces. The different ambiences that are created for each area are mostly the result of considering the new furniture and its layout as an important spatial design element for characterizing the space and by controlling the natural light and applying different types of artificial lighting to each individual area.’

Smoothness and Striation in Digital Learning Spaces
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Bayne, S. (2004) Smoothness and Striation in Digital Learning Spaces. E-Learning, Volume 1, Number 2, 2004.

It is Deleuze & Guattari’s description of smooth and striated
cultural spaces (Deleuze & Guattari, 1988) which informs this exploration of
pedagogical alternatives within the learning environments of cyberspace. Digital
spaces work to constitute subject and text in ways which are distinct, and it is
awareness of this distinctiveness which must inform our engagement with the
internet as a space for learning and teaching. By using Deleuze & Guattari’s
conceptualisation of the smooth and the striated, the author works towards a
way of understanding how a theorisation of internet ‘topography’ can inform
pedagogical choice within online learning contexts. The author begins with a
summary of the relation between the striated and the smooth as defined by
Deleuze & Guattari, and moves on to consider how this distinction can be
extended into the environments of cyberspace. She then explores how a
pedagogical approach might be developed which attempts to inhabit ‘smooth’
internet spaces, and ends with a consideration of the virtual learning
environment or ‘e-learning system’ which, in defining itself as a space of
containment, regulation and efficient progression, functions as a strongly
striating element within pedagogical web space.


Fisher, K. 2002, Re-voicing the classroom: A critical psychosocial spaciality of learning, Rubida Research Pty Ltd. [Last accessed 20.06.2018]

See also: The evaluation of physical learning environments: A critical review of the literature. April 2014. Learning Environments Research.

‘This article critically reviews the methodologies and methods that have been used for the evaluation of physical learning environments. To contextualize discussion about the evaluation of learning spaces, we initially chart the development of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) for non-domestic buildings. We then discuss the recent evolution of POE into the broader evaluative framework of building performance evaluation. Subsequently, a selection of approaches used to evaluate higher education and school learning environments are compared and critically analyzed in view of contemporary approaches to teaching and learning. Gaps in these evaluative approaches are identified and an argument is put forward for the evaluation of physical learning environments from a more rigorous pedagogical perspective.’ [Abstract]

‘Renewed interest in progressive and constructivist approaches to education have encouraged people to re-examine their assumptions not only about educational provision across all sectors, but also about how best to design and use space for pedagogical activities (Cleveland 2009, 2011; Fisher 2002, 2004, 2005; Jamieson et al. 2005; Radcliffe et al. 2008). Interest in pedagogies that have been informed by the notions associated with experiential learning (Dewey 1966, 1971), critical pedagogy (Friere 1970), situated learning (Lave and Wenger 1991), authentic learning (Newmann 1992), interdisciplinary learning (Beare 2000) and the development of democratic citizens (McLaren 2007) has began to reframe people’s attitudes towards the spaces in which students learn.’ [p 7]

‘The research project also investigated a variety of data-collection methods. In addition to ‘‘typical survey methods’’ (Lee and Tan 2011, p. 10), the report suggested that researchers were ‘‘seeking creative methods to gather data that provide[d] the best fit for the questions at hand’’ (Lee and Tan 2011, p. 10). Some of the ‘creative methods’ that were indentified included observational studies, video and protocol studies, diaries, movement tracking and group activities. The report suggested that, although the use of diverse methods might support data collection that could lead to new understandings about the learning/space nexus, this might also be problematic because few tools were likely to be used in more than one context, or tested in multiple evaluations over time (Lee and Tan 2011).’ [p 13]

‘… a lack of resourcing dedicated to comprehensive evaluations; sensitivity of evaluation processes and findings; a tendency to present spaces positively and without contextual information; limitations in understanding about the purpose and value of evaluation; limiting assumptions about the potential for input from a variety of stakeholders; and the complex nature of evaluation itself.’ [p 14]

Sanoff (2001) also outlined a process that he termed Relating Objectives to Learning to Education (ROLE). ROLE was intended to support pedagogical transformation by involving teachers, students, parents, administrators and designers in ‘‘exploring aspects of the school environment by considering alternative approaches to teaching and learning’’ (p. 23). 

‘Sanoff’s contribution to the field of learning environment evaluation shifted the focus of building evaluation in education towards interest in evaluating how learning environments could be used to support pedagogical activities.’ [p 16]

‘The creation of innovative learning environments in higher education settings in particular appears to have encouraged researchers to search for novel evaluation methodologies and methods that can be used to assess the effectiveness of educational facilities in supporting the learning process. This renewed interest in evaluation at the intersection of the physical and the social represents a return to the origins of POE in environmental psychology. It also supports Preiser and Nasar’s (2008) view that a new perspective on building evaluation is currently being developed that favours ‘bottom up’ approaches to evaluation, which value the opinions of the user.’ [p 28 conclusion]

See also: The Emerging Importance of the Affective in Learning Environment Evaluations [last accessed 20.06.2018]

‘Nevertheless, Hargreaves and Fullan (2013) argue that transforming teaching requires building professional capital, a process that is far more complex than data driven models of building business capital. Leadership for transformative change in teaching will be, they say, “a judicious mixture of push, pull, and nudge” (p. 39). The E21LE project hopes to influence the push, pull and nudge factors of pedagogical change through developing frameworks and strategies for evaluation that align practice and space.’ [p 12]

‘There are two common purposes in educational evaluation, which at times are in conflict with one another. Educational institutions often require evaluation data to (1) demonstrate various forms of effectiveness to funders and other stakeholders, (2) provide a measure of performance for marketing purposes and (3) to inform evidence-based policy development. Evaluation in this context is also a professional activity that individual educators may undertake if they intend to review and enhance the learning they are endeavouring to facilitate. Yet, the use of evaluation to drive transformative change in education is highly vexed, particularly in the higher education sector where universities value academic freedom and professional development is largely carried out through conferences and peer-to-peer networks. Any form of top-down organised transformation is hotly contested and indeed commonly resisted or corrupted. To a degree, this is true in schools as well, as teacher professional development is often left to the individual and there is often little compunction for teachers to change the way they practice.’ [pp 12-13]

‘Evaluations can be industry or academe lead. In the realm of evaluating learning environments this can promote evaluations that have a high orientation to objective/ technical aspects (such as post occupancy evaluation in architecture) or those that have a high orientation to abstract/qualitative aspects (such as measures of learning outcomes in education). Certainly, previous approaches to post occupancy evaluations of learning spaces have been less concerned with pedagogy and more focussed on issues related to indoor environment quality, construction and building quality. Conversely, what is often evaluated within pedagogical practice is not only quite varied, but contested in terms of what practices are most highly valued, and rarely if ever do these evaluations cover the places and spaces for learning.’ [p 13]

See also: Educause Learning Space Rating System at:

Fisher, K. 2005, Research into identifying effective learning environments, Evaluating Quality in Educational Facilities, OECD/PEB.