Student studying in student union

Exploring Complex Learning Spaces

Philip Wood, Paul Warwick


This project focuses on developing an understanding of the complexity of learning spaces which are inhabited by students in higher education institutions. Developing work already carried out by the project leaders on experimental learning spaces within the university, this is a project which aims to gain a better understanding of the ‘learning lives’ of students beyond the formal learning spaces such as the lecture theatre, laboratory and seminar room. Using a mixed methods approach focusing on survey and photo-ethnographic methods data will be developed from the general to the particular to investigate the other spaces which students use to develop their learning. These spaces include both physical and virtual spaces, as well as on and off campus spaces, including cafes, libraries, study bedrooms as well as virtual learning environments and social networking/Web 2.0 technologies. This research intends to consider the complex interplay of these different spaces in the learning of students and also how they relate to the formal spaces of which we have a clearer understanding. This project will therefore aid academics in better understanding the dynamics of the learning ecologies which underpin the experiences of students within the university.


Formal learning spaces, Informal learning spaces, complexity theory, Deleuzean Rhizomatics, Striated/smooth spaces


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