The institutional perspective

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Designing flexible learning spaces - Northumbria University


The City Campus Library at Northumbria University in Newcastle on Tyne was opened in 1978 and had received little investment in buildings or infrastructure. However, student demand for access to IT had been rising significantly by 2004. Facilities were being used at full capacity during opening hours, with queues forming regularly at peak periods.

Changes in assessment procedures and pedagogical approaches were clearly having an impact on students' use of learning materials. Increasingly, students were seeking access to resources on the VLE, to web pages, e-journals, e-books and databases alongside print-based materials. Factors such as these have led the Library and Learning Services team to redefine the library in terms of a hybrid learning space.

Key advantages

A learning space design that is supportive of group work and informal learning is beneficial to students. A choice between types of learning spaces with different functions will enable students to respond more effectively to differing study and assessment requirements during their course.