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Understanding technology-rich learning spaces

Nadia Pantidi, Thursday 3rd June, 15:15 pm - 15:30 pm, Student Presentations 3, JLB Meeting Room 1

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31 May 2010

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She is a 3rd year PhD student. She is going to briefly talk about technology-rich learning spaces. There has been an introduction of a lot of technology-rich learning spaces and these have been made from scratch to support new ways of learning such as collaborative, informal, creative, social.

She is showing some pics of different buildings including the Nexus in the JLB. Mentions the Times Online extract on the Nexus as a place for socialising.

There has been research to evaluate how these places have been used and whether it is helping in the collaboration etc. Further research is needed as the settings are quite complex interdependencies such as social and technological.

She is trying to build an understanding of what exactly is happening in these spaces, how do people interact or behave in these spaces and what emerges from observing these places. Her methodology is ethnographic particularly she is part of the setting. She is using participant-observation and semi-structure interviews.

She is discussing CSpace (one setting of her study).

CSpace is part of a computing department which would help the collaboration of students for software development – they wanted a space that was optimal for collaboration unlike the IT lab. This setting looks like huge greenhouses (bases on the pics!).

The technology in this space was being used a lot – the technology was being used not only when they had to. They liked to use the technology. She started wondering why it was occurring here.

She suggests the reasons are because the transitions were fluid. The students sat in a booth together working on a project – there is a shared interactive board and around the space there are laptops and tablets. The students had laptops in front of them – and occasionally they were switching to the shared display and back to theirs. This was quite quick to do. When they wanted to discuss or review requirements they were using the shared display but when they wanted to check email/ writing code then they switched it off.

Sometimes when they felt they could do it, they would share a funny video or something that is relevant to their work. The technology allowed them to transition from their private to public (group) work. It made the space practical and attractive and allowed the students have control over their space. This made it their “second” home.

Themes emerging:

  • Control
  • Accessibility
  • Flexibility

Some considerations for this research:

  • Reality is complex
  • Context matters
  • People appropriate
  • Levels of control and orchestration


Was this a longitudinal study? Were there any frustrations of having privacy and public bits being shown to each other? It was longitudinal and sharing stuff seemed to build collaboration. Students more and more switch between stuff.

How important was the physical proximity? Could you find the same set up in virtual space? Some of the projects of the students were doing was virtual with students working with another students at another university – but wasn’t present to see it. But it was more podcasting results and coordinating a bit. This is kind of different from what I am doing.

How would you conclude results – ie. Regulating the private and public space? I think the technology was giving the option to the user to control their privacy.

Have you observed any correlation between the number of technologies available in the space and what people are doing? The space I’m looking into are quite new – they all have recent technologies. The students found the laptops were too slow (but they were only 2 years old).

13:50 on 3 June 2010

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