Designing spaces for effective learning
The design of both formal and informal learning spaces can play a crucial role in helping HEIs to improve their inclusive practices.
Inclusive learning environments
Learning environments should aim to engage learners, make participants feel welcome, and give everyone an equal opportunity to participate—that is, they should be inclusive . To create an inclusive, safe, and accessible learning environment for diverse and differently abled participants, the following aspects should be considered:
- Physiological inclusion
(lightning, acoustics, temperature, air quality, accessibility)
- Cognitive inclusion
(multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement)
- Cultural inclusion
(increase social belogingness in verbal and visual content and visual design).
Accessible learning spaces
Making spaces accessible for people with different needs is not the same as making spaces inclusive. The principles of universal design (UDL) aim to make products, buildings, or environments usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The seven principles of physical learning spaces of UDL address the following points:
Equitable use, Flexibility in use, Simple and intuitive use, Perceptible information, Tolerance for error, Low physical effort, and Size and space for approach and use.
Flexible learning spaces
The JISC guidance provides some excellent ideas and materials to stimulate discussions in your own team and beyond. The document considers such important themes as flexibility; future-proofing; innovation and creativity; as well as support for learners.
The content of the document “Designing spaces for effective learning“ includes chapters on:
- Designing 21st century learning
- Transforming learning experiences
- Teaching spaces
- Vocational teaching spaces
- Learning centres
- Social spaces
JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee, UK)
Principles of Universal Design. 1997 . Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University.