Flexible, User-Constructed (non-metaphorical) Spaces

From email from my co-worker, Jenny Darrow:

I’ve done some thinking about the physical space that we will need to promote and support technology and engagement pedagogies. I’m concerned that our emphasis has been so focused on learning, teaching, and curriculum that we’ve been delinquent in addressing physical space requirements….

She goes onto link to Stanford’s Wallenberg Hall classrooms as examples of new design thinking, which I think is exactly right.

What does Wallenberg replace the traditional classroom with? Reconfigurable space combined with media infrastructure. Few assumptions about what your class will be, but many features that can help it be what you want. Here’s how they put it (emphasis mine):

We have already addressed some of these issues with a new type of classroom design that allows learners and instructors to control the configuration of their environment. Next we propose to integrate this type of room with other learning spaces to form “flexible agenda spaces” designed to adapt, moment-to-moment to the activity requirements of the user community.

To put it even more precisely, the design avoids planning in favor of an environment that encourages hacking.

It’s strange how all these things come together. For programmers, it’s small pieces loosely coupled. For architects it’s reconfigurable space. For graphics people, it’s the move from “design” to “style”.

The upshot everywhere seems to be that design is always perfect for last year’s ideas. But last year’s ideas are not what keeps us moving forward.

If you want to keep moving forward, you’re going to have to hack your space. Metaphorical or not.

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One Comment on “Flexible, User-Constructed (non-metaphorical) Spaces”

  1. Jenny DArrow says:

    It’s so simple isn’t it Mike! Design really matters when you begin to think about the delivery of engagement pedagogies. You summed it up nicely though: “For programmers, it’s small pieces loosely coupled. For architects it’s reconfigurable space. For graphics people, it’s the move from “design” to “style”.” I’m curious to learn more about how the design and the delivery intersect. I’m looking forward to more conversation on the subject.


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