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28 Aug
Murdoch - Flexible Design Learning

ACORPP has traditionally dealt in the physical space of the workplace, but there is an increasing demand for the integration of the digital space into the upfront strategic planning of leases and fitouts.

Nowhere is that approach needed more critically than in a learning environment. ACORPP director Gordon Bateup was recently invited to present his thoughts on“Flexible Design Learning”to an academic audience at Murdoch University.


FDL is a concept that aims to seamlessly fuse physical and digital learning needs into one elegant solution. For students, that means creating a space where they can learn, study, relax, play and – importantly – belong. It’s about creating a connected community. It’s about interaction.  “If we look at a typical university environment, we can very easily detect a disconnect with the FDL formula,” Gordon said. 


He said the layout of the traditional lecture theatre being used today was actually based on the amphitheatre designed by the ancient Greeks and it no longer delivered a rich learning experience.

 “The traditional lecture hall environment only contributes to a learning rate of about 5%. In an interactive, digital environment that can increase to 90% plus,” he said.


GB Murdoch


Gordon said that from just that one stat, it was evident that traditional learning spaces were failing to engage students.

Educational institutions were still grappling with the need for teaching and learning approaches to evolve with the advances of the digital revolution and the benefits it could deliver.

“The learning emphasis today is to understand how students want to study and the solution to that requires a collaboration between them, academics, designers and IT professionals.

 “It’s quite clear that teaching and learning need to embrace a new union of the physical and digital spaces,” he said.

Gordon said learning spaces had to be reimagined.

“Cafes can become informal learning or study areas. Furniture might be adaptable to a multitude of uses. Other spaces could be adaptable to group or individual study. Wifi, LCD screens and tablets would lead the digital integration,” he said.

“The key factor in making all that work is flexibility.”

Gordon said FDL was a holistic approach to the design of a work or learning space that considered present and future needs, both at a physical and a digital level.

“Basically, it means taking a strategic approach to the design of space, not just an operational one.

“It’s about building flexibility into the design of space to enable you to respond to changing demands both within your business or learning institution or through those imposed by external world conditions,” he said.

Gordon said that because the digital space was continuing to evolve, the physical space had to be adaptable to whatever advances might be delivered.

“You have to think inside and outside. Once you have put up a wall, you have created a physical barrier that might not come down again. That’s not to say we don’t need walls, but we need to think very carefully about why they are there, apart from a boundary, security or protection from the weather,” he said.

Gordon said that the approach to FDL began with three considerations: property, facility and community.

“Property addresses the physical space needs, facility examines how a space works and how you move through it. It also identifies the fixed and fluid structures (walls and the movable pieces).

“Community brings people together and examines how they learn and how the physical and digital spaces can deliver the best outcomes,” Gordon said.

“In the end, it’s about creating connectedness, somewhere people feel they belong; it’s about fostering a community, a place where people want to spend their time.

“If you can achieve that, then the learning results will be spectacular,” he said.

VIDEO : Murdoch - Flexible Design Learning Talk




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