Friday, March 6, 2015

Building Community with FLEXspace: The Flexible Learning Environments eXchange

Importance of Learning Environments


Learning environments carve out "space and place" to inspire learning and creativity. They provide opportunities to grow, connect, and exchange ideas — increasingly through digital "face time" and captured content in support of hybrid and blended learning. Learning environments also garner attention from parents, students, faculty, and alumni as signature elements that showcase and extend a campus's identity.


Classrooms are growing both in technical and functional complexity. Even as budgets to meet a range of pedagogical practices get squeezed and lose flexibility, something as simple as furniture on wheels influences student group sizes (which in turn has impact on how registrars seat classes); mobile devices connect students with content and classmates around the globe (challenging network capacity and device interoperability); and faculty are rapidly adapting curricula to include more problem-based active learning (which influences the teaching and learning center's professional development planning).


Facilities that contain wet labs or other specialized features might be constrained by plumbing and electrical layouts, but significant amounts of technology can be integrated to support access to digital learning resources. It would be unnecessary and cost-prohibitive to renovate every classroom on campus on a regular cycle, so how do campus administrators, faculty, and staff "right-size" and balance opportunity cost with a minimum of stakeholder friction when planning classroom renovations and building new spaces? . . . Gaining a common understanding of these stakeholder perspectives was the driving force behind a SUNY-led proof-of-concept project that evolved into the Flexible Learning Environments eXchange — FLEXspace (https://sites.google.com/site/flexspacedev/).

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