Are we digital or physical? Are we flexible learners and educators?


Space, whether physical or digital, formal or informal, institutional or personal, indoor or outdoor, private or public, identified or anonymous, stationary or mobile can have a significant impact on learning. Learning spaces are becoming more flexible, where boundaries between digital and physical are blurring and diminishing catalysed by the proliferation of digital and disruptive technologies in both formal and informal learning contexts.

Not surprisingly, learning and transferability potential is most effective when an appropriate blend of learning spaces is used to enhance learners’ experience, reflections, applications of knowledge. Current design of the use of teaching and learning spaces needs to exploit new technologies and tools in order to embrace this change and respond to the evolution of learner needs and learning dynamics.

Learning technologies are just one component of a complex ecosystem in which learning takes place. With the onward advance of technology, materials, and architectural concepts, academic institutions that hope to successfully leverage their facilities and technology assets will evolve their approach to learning space design.Educause.

Emergence of new technologies (location-based, context aware beacons, wearables, etc.) influence the way we occupy our digital and physical spaces and the added value and feasibility in terms of teaching and learning should be assessed with pedagogical perspectives in mind. The challenge will be the connectedness and the seamlessness of experience within this hybrid space.

The 2013 Innovating Pedagogy report emphasises on seamless learning, where there is a need to connect learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, device and social setting. This field is moving from research to mainstream adoption and is in line with the emerging trend in Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), where access to digital learning resources is encouraged. “Pedagogy is emerging, based on learners starting an investigation in class, then collecting data at home or outdoors, constructing new knowledge with assistance from an enabling tool, and sharing findings in the classroom.” The trend in Inquiry-based and problem-based learning advocates such dynamic.

So where do we stand? To what extend do we need to merge these spaces in order to optimise the learning experience and importantly achieve the learning outcomes we so desire?