Towards aligning pedagogy, space and technology

As part of my MSc dissertation, entitled “Towards aligning pedagogy, space and technology inside a large-scale learning environment“, I did some research on how academic staff and students used the “learning spaces” and the mobile technologies with Canterbury Christ Church University‘s new library and student services centre called Augustine House. I have accumulated a lot of supporting material and journal articles that I would like to present in a wiki, but as an appetizer for things to come, please have a read of the dissertation abstract:

Over the last decade, there has been considerable interest and investment in learning spaces, both nationally and internationally. In 2008/09, Canterbury Christ Church University invested £35m in building a technology-rich library and student support centre called Augustine House. This present study, following on from previous studies conducted by the researcher and others, aims to investigate the extent to which we are able to align pedagogy, space and technology effectively to offer innovative models and approaches to learning and teaching that would enhance the student experience.

A multi-method design was followed involving a semi-structured staff interview; a student online questionnaire; and a student narrative inquiry. Five academic staff from across four faculties was interviewed about their experiences; three hundred and twenty-five students answered the online questionnaire; and thirty-five students took part in the narrative inquiries. The three data collection methods were triangulated and provided perspectives from both staff and students on their adoption of the spaces and technologies available in Augustine House; eliciting any opportunities, challenges and issues they experienced as a consequence.

It was evident academic staff perceived ‘learning spaces’ as being distinctive to ‘teaching spaces’ because of the potential to provide innovative opportunities for a rich and diverse array of learning experiences, which students had found to be extremely satisfying. However, if staff were not prepared to take risks, lacked a detailed ‘mental map’ of Augustine House, or did not plan their sessions carefully, these gave rise to ‘troublesome space’ that challenged their teaching practices and philosophies. Students experienced ‘troublesome space’ where it was not clear what they could or could not do in particular areas. Evidence suggests that influencing students’ attitudes could engage them in using a large-scale, technology-rich learning environment. Furthermore, they placed a high premium on ‘silent spaces’; suggesting that policy makers and planners may need to consider the right balance between social and private spaces.

A conceptual model is proposed which attempts to align pedagogy, space and technology to create an ‘elusive triangle’ placing the learner at its heart. The model attempts to explain how the learner influences and is influenced by pedagogy, space and technology.