Sunday, October 07, 2007

Architecture for Andragogy

Browsing in the recent serials at the National Library of Australia I came across an edition of Architecture Australia (Sep/Oct 07) on design of schools. While covering secondary schools, much of the discussion of flexible learning centres is is applicable to adult learning (andragogy) at universities and post school technical training. AA have previously had articles on this subject.

In "Pedagogy and Architecture", Ken Fisher categorises learning activity zones, based on the noise level and activity. He points out that developments such as low cost laptops and wireless networking, as well as better teaching training have overcome the problems of 1970's style "open plan" classrooms.

In "Spaces for Learning" Richars Leonard shows the design of the Wallan Secondary College of Art, with a large open area featuring common learning studios, seminar areas and presentation areas in one large space delineated with partitions, but no doors (there are some traditional rooms with walls for specialised functions).

What I found interesting was the idea of a mix of different layouts for different purposes, all withing the one room. However, this will create some practical problems for administration, as it will not be possible to lock up a room when not in use and enforce the allocation of teaching spaces based on who has the key.

While described as flexible learning spaces, the designs in the articles seem to be based on a fixed layout, dedicated to a particular function. This might be due to the needs of the technology, with computers still requiring power cables, if not data ones. It may also reflect the need to have some fixed structure for the user to plan their activities around (Ken Fisher refers to the "student home base").

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