a framework for designing student learning environments for the future

Virtual learning space

Many higher education universities use virtual learning environments to enhance the face-to-face learning and teaching experience via blended learning or to provide distance education using blended or totally online subjects and degree programs. Virtual learning spaces need to provide similar affordances to the physical learning spaces through virtual spaces such as online discussion forums, blogs, wikis, podcasts and diverse media environments. The notion of space in this context is not bounded by physical walls but by different virtual spaces that have different affordances. The idea of ‘comfort’ is important in virtual spaces too: attractive, easily navigable and welcoming multi-use spaces that can be reasily customised for a variety of uses. Second Life or virtual worlds and learning management systems such as Blackboard, Sakai and Moodle, digital repositories, ITunes University provide spaces for different learning experiences and allow learning and teaching anywhere, anytime via both synchronous and asynchronous modes. Both formal and informal spaces need to be considered in this environment.

La Trobe University’s formal lecture space in Second Life

The idea of ‘comfort’ is important in virtual spaces too: attractive, easily navigable and welcoming multi-use spaces that can be reasily customised for a variety of uses. Blogging and social networking sites and learning management systems often provide this sort of function.

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