University of Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 36-46
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
The Learning Spaces agenda comprises a body of recent scholarship which emphasises the importance of linking the design of physical learning environments, an understanding of cognitive theories, technological innovations and the construction of teaching methodologies in order to facilitate more effective models of student learning. Despite this, empirical research has shown that these strands of work are often divergent in reality, presumably for historical and political reasons, and that worthwhile rhetoric surrounding their integration has been difficult to translate into practice.

A priority, therefore, is to postulate good examples of technology supported Learning Spaces which can enable new forms of teaching and learning as a result of interdisciplinary work drawing upon traditions as divergent as Computer Science, Education, Psychology, the Built Environment and, as illustrated here, a cultural understanding of the way in which learners interact with the visual elements of their surroundings. This paper proposes Multi-Display Learning Spaces as such an example and argues that this classroom model enables a new form of learning, “multiple perspective learning”, which allows students to construct complex arguments in small group settings by comparing and integrating multiple perspectives based upon a series of visual representations and appropriate scaffolding by the teacher.

To elaborate our approach we begin by describing the kinds of technological environments which can facilitate multiple perspective learning, focussing on the properties of four systems at the University of Nottingham. We further discuss the benefits to student learning arising from the approach, and suggest an explanation for these results by considering the system as a Cognitive Tool within psychological theories of instructional design.

We continue by illustrating the properties of the scenario from the interdisciplinary perspectives outlined earlier. From a Human-Computer Interaction perspective we illustrate the implications of managing and interacting with the large amounts of information upon which the scenario relies; from a psychological perspective we consider the implications of cognitive load theory and relate this to social classroom conventions for managing student attention; from an Education research perspective we consider the role of the teacher in supporting the student discussion and in scaffolding the scenario through material construction and in-room management; and from a Built Environment perspective we consider how the technology in this example defines the space and forces a focus upon spatiality in teaching largely absent from current pedagogical theories.

We conclude by arguing that iterative cycles of technological and pedagogical development involving a variety of stakeholders are necessary if future Learning Spaces are to be more closely linked to the scaffolded needs of learners. One the one hand, it is necessary to examine the gap between the desired perceptions and interactions within the mode of learning and those presented by the design of the technology-supported Learning Space. On the other, it is desirable to examine the perceptions and interactions afforded by the design which are not utilised by the existing methods, to see if learning itself can be enriched while still maintaining an appropriate structure. It is in these ways that Learning Spaces will be able to activate and sustain new, richer forms of learning.
Learning Spaces, visual learning, educational technology, collaboration, student argumentation, interdisciplinary research, education research.