Spring 2016: Focusing on the Future of Planning Learning Spaces

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

LSC Initiatives: Portfolios, Roundtables, and a Forum

In Spring 2016, the LSC gives continuing attention to questions to be asked in planning learning spaces, connecting the dots more directly between questions to be asked about how planning happens and about how learning happens. This initiative builds on the experience of shaping and using The LSC Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners (2013), a guide prompting those with responsibility and opportunity to shape learning spaces to give attention to four foundational questions:

Five LSC Regional Roundtables on the Future were planned. At each a small group of academics and design professionals collaborate in an afternoon session, beginning with examining questions that are driving recent facilities initiatives, then imagining and posing a new set of foundational questions. Inspired by the wisdom of David Perkins (Harvard University), the intent is to provide an environment for collaborative, inventive thinking about both the process and product.

Through skepticism, questioning, analogy, brainstorming, trial and error, exhaustive search and many other ways, inventors transgress boundaries to devise fundamentally fresh and more powerful ways of doing things.  (Mapping the Inventive Mind. National Academy of Sciences, 2004.)

One goal of these roundtables is to develop a prototype for planning that could be used as a starting point for engaging a campus community in identifying questions that matter in their context, as they embrace their future, whether they are called to plan the repurposing of an outdated chemistry building, or to construct a new facility that serves as a interdisciplinary bridge, or the planning to plan new institutional policies that recognize the reality that space matters to learning.

Questions examined at each roundtable were submitted in applications from participating architects—presenting a description and visuals relating to a specific project and the questions that drove the planning. Reports from and about the roundtables will be posted regularly on the LSC website.  Roundtables were held at Georgia Institute of Technology (March 22); Boston University (April 8); University of Washington (April 26); Loyola Marymount University (May 12); and the University of Chicago Illinois (June 2).

A few of the questions to be explored: 

  • Current trends in higher education value a culture of openness and sharing in the academic environment. What can our learning spaces do to promote strategic partnerships between students from different backgrounds and disciplines to push learning beyond the boundaries of a classroom?
  • How do we create the destination for collaboration with industry, government, and academic partners to accelerate intellectual and economic development and help students build a bridge to a bright future?
  • Can an institution struggling with inertia take a quantum leap into modern classrooms?

The complete set of materials from these firms will be incorporated into follow-up reports that will be shared with the LSC community, after each roundtable, together with stories about how the roundtable proceeded—how the “roundtable approach" served its purpose in arriving at thoughts about more powerful ways of looking at the planning of learning spaces.

From Georgia Institute of Technology's Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons Study