What works: Connecting the dots at the institutional level

The fall 2012 LSC webinar series focuses on institution-wide approaches to shaping and renewing the physical environment for learning, giving attention to managing classrooms, developing active-learning classrooms, making the case for 21st century learning spaces, and establishing policies and practices for an informal learning space initiative.

Each of the four case studies to be explored in these webinars illustrate the increased complexity of the process, suggesting how the language of planning is changing and thus how new voices and expertise need to be at the planning table.

As classrooms become active-learning classrooms, dots must be connected between research on learning and research-based pedagogies, as well as institutional initiatives for faculty development, student assessment, curricular innovation, and emerging technologies.

As campuses realize that every space is a learning space, that students learn 24/7, that learning is a social activity, the process of identifying and connecting relevant ‘dots’ becomes even more challenging.

As campuses make hard decisions about best use of limited resources in the context of their large institutional vision, connections must be made to the past, present, and future of a particular campus community, through discussions that engage faculty and facilities officers, administrators and students—perhaps even alumni and potential employers. 

As illustrated by the photos from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (on the left), when planning involved deciding how many chairs in how many rows, the process was easy, involving perhaps only a single individual. So, just as the process of 21st century learning is most robust as it is collaborative, problem-driven, and real-world, so should the process of planning 21st century learning spaces.