Aim - Extent - Agency: 3 Goals of Flexible Learning in Higher Education

In a recent article published by Educause, Pedagogical Agility in Flexible Learning Spaces: Why Faculty Development Needs to Be as Adaptable as Classrooms, a discussion of how the physical learning space can support teaching strategies in the most human-centered, flexible, engaged way possible.

“Individuals across higher education—administrators, faculty, architects, and others—increasingly recognize that physical classroom spaces need to be designed to better accommodate active learning. This means making classrooms more flexible in all aspects, including furniture, ways of sharing content, writing surfaces, and power sources,” (Source).

So how do you bridge the gap between instruction and theory, and transition into the absorption of knowledge through the most sophisticated way possible?

“As faculty development evolves to support instructors who teach in flexible learning spaces, we propose a design philosophy with three tenets that encompass both learning spaces and faculty development:

  • Aim: What is provided should be designed and allocated equitably rather than equally.

  • Extent: When scaling, there should be as much inherent flexibility as resources will allow.

  • Agency: Faculty should be given spaces and support such that there is well-placed confidence in their professional decision-making around classrooms and pedagogy.”

Using this trifecta of learning space design, below we have come up with a few idea-starters to get creative juices flowing.

1) Aim

“Classroom designs should aim to provide flexible learning environments for all who teach and learn in them. Representing a wide range of contexts and resources, hundreds of colleges and universities are increasingly attending to this important goal when designing or renovating classroom spaces for active learning…Ideally, room design should be variable across campus in order to be matched to different pedagogical goals and appropriate instructional approaches,” (Source).

Below are a few flexible classroom spaces that may work in a variety of higher education settings:


2) Extent

“We need to create lots of flexible spaces. Admittedly, many factors can limit the extent of such spaces—limitations could pertain to the total number of active learning spaces at an institution or the degree of flexibility within any individual classroom.”

Let’s get creative! Flexible learning doesn’t have to be constrained within the traditional classroom walls. Below are a few ideas ranging from hallways to coffee shops to cafes to libraries:


3) Agency

“Now that flexible spaces are in vogue, what kind of faculty development is most appropriate to support those who teach in them?”

More open-ended, we invite a variety of opinions, classroom experience, and suggestions when working with our clients. Below are a few renderings demonstrating some flexible ideas:

Want to read more from the original article? Click below to read more on Educause and contact us today for more information and perspective: