2010 PKAL LSC National Colloquium

Report from 2010 PKAL LSC National Colloquium

What We Know About Planning Learning Spaces and What We Still Need to Know

November 5 - 7, 2010
Westfields Marriott

Chantilly, Virginia

This colloquium was an occasion to engage a broad community of stakeholders in shaping the agenda for the work of the nascent PKAL Learning Spaces Collaboratory.

Colloquium Design. As a fitting start for such a complicated and crucial planning initiative, sessions were designed with a specific end in mind: a future in which there are active and substantial feed-back loops between theorists (those with research in the cognitive sciences, on the nature of creative social communities and on organizational change, on relationships between intellectual, social and physical environments for learning, on the impact on learning of technologies, pedagogies and the process of planning) and practitioners (those with responsibility and opportunity to imagine and design, shape and reshape, use and assess undergraduate learning spaces).

Colloquium Vision. The ultimate PKAL LSC vision is of a diverse community collaborating in exploring what is known about planning 21st century learning spaces and what is yet to be known, then collaborating in making that knowledge actionable at the campus level. As the essence of a collaboratory is to build from and engage expertise and connections of a diverse range of stakeholders, this colloquium was a major step in connecting questions about what we still need to know with other organizations with a shared interest in pursuing such questions.

We present here initial summaries of some colloquium discussions. These will be expanded on and available on the PKAL LSC website which will be public in early December at www.pkallsc.org.

Colloquium Participants. The participants included representatives of colleges and universities involved at some stage in rethinking and reimagining the spaces for learning on their campuses—ranging from campus-wide audits of classrooms and learning spaces to modest attention to informal, out-of-classroom/lab spaces. It is important to note that more than ½ of the nearly 100 participants were architects and lab designers; consultants in landscape design, technology planning, construction management; cognitive scientists and persons with expertise in designing and assessing learning/learning spaces. The power of having this mix of experience and expertise in the early stages of identifying and constructing feed-back loops cannot be understated.

Colloquium Questions. Much focus was on clarifying questions about what we need to know. Groups took on the task of thinking about the right questions under five themes: the planning process; the future; programmatic; technologies; and assessment. The questions that emerged from their discussions will be woven into and addressed in 2011 PKAL LSC activities (roundtables; webinars; workshops; etc.).

Why this matters. To spark attention to learning as a thread throughout, a quick overview of why and how space matters introduced the colloquium. Illustrating both what we know and what we need to know, it emphasized the dramatic advances in the planning of learning spaces that have been achieved over the past two decades, and the new challenges and opportunities facing planners now and into the next decade.

Reflections: We present reflections by colloquium participants on two sessions that convey the mix of discussions on theory and practice during the colloquium.

  • Plenary Session I: Why Attention to Learning Matters
    The opening plenary was a dialogue between Daniel L. Goroff, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wendy Newstetter, Georgia Institute of Technology, challenging participants to think why attention to learners and learning matters.

  • Plenary Session V: Overcoming Obstacles: A Win-Win Scenario
    The Saturday evening role-playing exercise engaged participants as different characters at the planning table: the climber, the rising star, the idealist, the conformist, the activist, the donor, the bureaucrat, and the board member.