Introduction: Why re- think learning spaces?
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There has been increasing interest in learning spaces over recent years. Experts across the fi elds of architecture, education and estates management are producing a considerable number of publications, and many new and innovative examples have now been built (Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) 2006, Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) 2006, Oblinger 2006, Scottish Funding Council 2006, Neary et al. 2010). Yet key basic questions about what we mean by ‘space’ and what matters about it in relation to learning, remain unanswered. What kinds of space are we talking about – conceptual, physical, virtual, social and/or personal? What are the relationships between the nature of these various spaces and how they actually impact on learning activities? What are the different spaces in which learning takes place (both in and beyond the formal teaching environment) and how can we interrogate the effectiveness of different kinds of learning spaces? What needs to change both in the ‘conceptual’ spaces we have about learning, and in our physical and virtual spaces, in order to enhance learning experiences?