a framework for designing student learning environments for the future

The La Trobe Learning Room

The Learning Room in the Humanities 2 Building at La Trobe University is the first space to be designed using the principles of learning space design developed during the SKG Project.

A short video about the Learning Room appears here:

The room was created by refurbishing an oddly shaped room that was being used to store old furniture.  With limited resources the project team converted an underused space into an aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, and flexible learning space that is now being used by across the faculty.

Media students using the La Trobe Learning Room

The project team maximized the aesthetic advantage already existing in the room – the magnificent view of La Trobe’s Australian bush campus.  The natural view contrasts with the ochre wall chosen by the team and designed to give the room the ‘edgy’ feel that the team observed at MIT.   The mix of nature, the warm yellow ochre wall, and the modern fittings in the room combine to make the room visually interesting enough to be stimulating but not distracting.

The blinds can be pulled down to cut down on glare but still allow a view of the natural scenery

The Project Team priotitsed ensuring that students are comfortable in the classroom, so much of the budget went on Steelcase chairs and tables, and tidying up the kitchen facilities that were already in the room.

The 'Chalk to Plasma' continuum in use


The other important lesson learnt by the project team was that technology should enable good teaching practice – tools need to be provided that will assist the learning process and they don’t necessarily have to be high-tech.  We  provided a ‘plasma-to-chalk continuum’, installing a blackboard, a smart board, and enough huddle boards for students to use when they break into groups.

The furniture is very easy to reconfigure and the tools (smart board, huddle boards) are designed to be low impact visually and intuitive to use, so the flow of the class won’t be interrupted by problems with technology.  The room is ideal for collaborative teaching techniques as well as traditional lecture formats.

History lecture in La Trobe University's Learning Room

Whichever way the room is configured everyone can see everyone else in the room and therefore has the opportunity to participate.

Students listening to history lecture have the option to pull the blinds down or use the natural light to see their notes.

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Support for this project website has been provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.  The views expressed in the project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

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The SKG Project website by the SKG Project Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.