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OER19 Conference, NUI Galway, 10-11 April 2019


In this research presentation we present and explore open educational practices and resources in the context of learning spaces, broadly defined to include lecture theatres, classrooms, social areas, and online environments. Specifically, we examine the ways in which the use of space in campus-based institutions has been opened up through the evolution of learning theories and technologies (Brown & Long, 2006), and how the design and use of physical learning spaces has been remediated through the evolving use of blended and online learning in campus-based programmes.

We have undertaken collaborative research comprising a literature review and desk study of existing institutional practices as the basis for planned fieldwork and further collaborative research in our respective institutions, Dublin Institute of Technology (soon to become TU Dublin) in Ireland, and Purdue University in the US. Both institutions are engaged in the redesign of physical spaces, as well as the creation of entirely new buildings such as those on the Grangegorman campus in Dublin. These large scale projects have allowed us the opportunity to reconsider the purposes of physical learning spaces in the 21st century, and whether/how architecture has interacted with the rapid changes in educational technology and pedagogy.

In our review of the literature, we have examined relevant research for the key insights and lessons that can inform campus development and reflect the potential and actual use of new technologies. We will draw out elements of this research linking with open practices as an important dimension of new physical and blended learning spaces. Some key themes for discussion are:

  • Evidence that changes towards more open and shared educational spaces afford new opportunities to educators and students. Research has already pointed to the contribution of learning space design towards improving student learning, and enhancing shared practices amongst teachers and informed institutional planning (Alterator & Deed, 2013; Brooks, 2010; Cohen & Harvey, 2008). We consider whether new kinds of physical space in turn contribute to greater openness in teaching practices, and the use and reuse of open educational resources.
  • Evidence for the development of confidence and enhanced practice amongst lecturers/faculty through providing active learning spaces (Fitzsimmons, Neubauer & Haston, 2018). As university educators develop and enhance their teaching practice overall, we can identify new opportunities for the design and redesign of physical spaces towards active learning and connection with students.
  • Theorising on the potential for further change and development: building on the work of Rook, Choi and McDonald (2015) we consider how the evolution of learning theories and specifically open educational practices will influence the design of learning spaces in the future.
  • The potential role of educational development teams in developing open practices in new kinds of learning space: we examine the roles of academic developers and educational technologists in supporting colleagues towards more effective use of new kinds of learning space as well as the adoption of open practices (Fisher & Newton, 2014; Jamieson, 2003).


Alterator, S. & Deed, C. (2013). Teacher adaptation to open learning spaces. Issues in Educational Research, 23(3), 315-330.

Brooks, D.C. (2010). Space matters: The impact of formal learning environments on student learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 719-726.

Brown, M. & Long, P. (2006). Trends in Learning Space Design. In Oblinger, D. (Ed). Learning Spaces, pp. 9.1-9.11. EDUCAUSE e-book. Retrieved from

Cohen, P. & Harvey, J. (2008). Next-generation learning spaces: built pedagogy in action. In Weaver, M. (Ed). Transformative learning support models in higher education: educating the whole student. London: Facet.

Fisher, K. & Newton, C. (2014). Transforming the twenty-first century campus to enhance the net-generation student learning experience: using evidence-based design to determine what works and why in virtual/physical teaching spaces. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(5), 903-920.

Fitzsimmons, J., Neubauer, K. & Haston, A. (2018). Space Matters, But It’s No Guarantee: Reconceptualizing Active Learning Classrooms. Conference Presentation, Purdue University.

Jamieson, P. (2003). Designing more effective on-campus teaching and learning spaces: a role for academic developers. International Journal for Academic Development, 8(1-2), 119-133.

Rook, M.M., Choi, K. & McDonald, S.P. (2015). Learning Theory Expertise in the Design of Learning Spaces: Who Needs a Seat at the Table? Journal of Learning Spaces, 4(1), 1-29.